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Celebrate Your Wins

It’s no secret that celebrating employees is essential to building a positive workplace culture. Research shows acknowledgment motivates people to perform their best and makes them feel valued and appreciated.

To recognize the incredible work of school public relations professionals, the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) has officially designated the second Friday in May as School Communicators Day. While school PR pros are accustomed to celebrating others, many will admit it feels awkward to applaud their own accomplishments.

“We want you to receive the extra credit you deserve and be considered as a trusted advisor in your organization,” says Janet Swiecichowski, APR. “Oftentimes, you must become your own champion (without being a braggart) to ensure those around you appreciate your skills and expertise.”

Don’t worry! We’re here to help you highlight your hard work —  from small wins (batching all of your social media posts for the month) to strategic communication successes (passing a bond or levy). For recognition ideas, we turned to schools to find inspiration beyond the traditional board meeting presentation or a blurb in the annual report, And, we learned, some of the most creative celebrations take their cues from the classroom.

Make Some Noise

In the words of superstar Jennifer Lopez, “Let’s get loud!” Ring a cowbell, break out a party noisemaker or ask coworkers to form a hallway celebration tunnel when you achieve a goal. We know it might sound a little silly, but trust us. The pure joy of making a little noise will boost your endorphins, and it allows you to show off your work in a fun way.

Data Wall

If you have space in your office hallway, create a data wall to track your accomplishments — similar to how teachers show student growth and progress in their classrooms. Section your wall with your strategic communication objectives and list the results underneath. For example:

    • Objective: 5 positive media mentions in April
      Result: 8
    • Objective: Weekly staff e-newsletter sent on time
      Result: Completed on time 7 weeks – and counting!
    • Objective: Reach 1,000 Facebook followers by May 1
      Result: 1,060
    • Objective: 150 students enrolled in school summer program by June 1
      Result: 240
    • Objective: 90 percent of families update their contact information by September 1
      Result: 93 percent

Prefer a digital tool? Take a look at the scorecard idea from Park Hill (Mo.) School District, or SocialSchool4EDU’s social media report card, which can be easily adapted for any data points.

Victory Dance

Just like school athletes celebrate after a big win, make up a victory dance when you wrap up a slam-dunk project, too! Create your own “endzone” victory dance with your coworkers or pump up the volume on your favorite song. Check out K12prWell’s Uplift and Energize Playlist for some upbeat choices.

Display Your Work

Use your office or a conference room to plan an end-of-the-year gallery walk featuring your accomplishments and best work, similar to district art shows. You can also:

    • Request a month to share your work in a hallway display case
    • Create a Wow Wall on an office bulletin board with “Projects of the Month” 
    • Build a “Wall of Fame” to showcase your most stellar projects.

And the winner is …

Showcase your expertise by entering at least one piece of work in state and national award competitions. Winning an award is a huge accomplishment that you can easily slip into the staff newsletter or post on social media. When the award certificates or plaques arrive, fight the urge to stash them in your desk. Hang them where coworkers can see them!

Another idea? Use Canva to create your own everyday achievement certificates like these classroom award examples, which include “High-Five Award,” “Tough Cookie Award,” “On the Ball Award” and “Talented Techie Award.”

Reward Jar

Channel Parks and Recreation — and Treat Yo Self! Write the incentive you’re working toward on a large mason jar, and display the jar where others can see it. Incentive ideas include a special lunch, a new pair of shoes or a slice of cake from your favorite bakery.

Add a handful of objects — index cards, marbles, bingo chips, gold coins, lego pieces, clothespins, popsicle sticks, or pom-pom balls, for example — to the jar whenever you hit a goal or complete a project. As the jar fills, your coworkers will be able to ask questions, see your successes build and cheer you on. Once the jar is full, you can reward yourself with the chosen incentive.

Schedule a Visit

Teachers invite the superintendent to their classrooms to watch learning in action. You could do the same. Invite your supervisors to visit your office and share a 5-minute “lesson” about your latest project. If they’re educators, use Lesley Bruinton’s simple chart to explain your process and success; the NSPRA past-president translates RPIE to educator-friendly language.

Research, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation

Decorate Your Door

Add accomplishment messages to a letterboard sign, poster or dry erase board on your office door, or hang up the thank-you notes and emails you receive so coworkers can see how others value your work.

Get coworkers involved by using Post-Its to stick “small-win shoutouts” on office doors — including yours! Leave blank notes and markers throughout your building so everyone can write what they’re proud of, too. Try modeling your door after elementary classrooms and add a creative theme:

    • Let Your Light Shine
      Write accomplishments on paper shaped like flames.
    • Sky’s the Limit
      Write accomplishments on paper shaped like balloons.
    • Smile. Sparkle. Shine.
      Write accomplishments on paper shaped like stars.
    • Our Team is Poppin’
      Write accomplishments on paper shaped like popcorn — and then host a popcorn party when your door is fully decorated.

Morning Meeting

If you want to share an accomplishment without having the full attention on just you, make celebrations a group project. Round up your coworkers for a 5-minute Morning Meeting and encourage participants to share their “Win of the Month.”

Chat and Chew

Invite your coworkers to a 30-minute chat-and-chew. You can provide light refreshments like fruit, donuts or candy bars, or ask them to BYOS (bring your own snack). Use the informal conversation to discuss your successful project, answer questions, thank them for their contributions and illustrate the benefit of strategic communications.

Positive Phone Call

Similar to principals making a “positive phone call home” to families, call or text your supervisor directly to share your success.

Not ready to share good news with your boss just yet? Start by calling or texting your own family, or sharing a tweet with #schoolpr colleagues. Even if your fam gets a good chuckle at initially hearing you announce your own accomplishment, we bet they’ll shower you with so much praise that you’ll be smiling the rest of the day. 

    • Sample text message — about yourself:
      I’m getting better at sharing good news about my work so here goes: [Insert accomplishment]. Thanks for believing in me!

Mirror, Mirror

We understand you might not want to share everything with coworkers, but, at least, take a moment to celebrate yourself. Hang a mirror in your office so you can look yourself in the eyes, strike your best power pose and say, “Good job!” If you have more to say,  give yourself an acceptance speech. Play a YouTube applause track in the background to complete your “celebrity” moment.

Remember, creating a culture of celebration and gratitude lifts morale for all employees, including you. When we look for the good, we can find it on the darkest days. and celebrating joy is contagious.

Model gratitude by sending thank you notes, highlighting teammates, and celebrating people. A piece of chocolate with a hand-written note goes a long way. You will be surprised at the thank you notes you begin to receive as you build relationships across the district. And then display those notes — or just save them in a “warm-and-fuzzy” file for the days you need a lift. 

Published on: May 3, 2022