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CEL-ebrating our 2023 NSPRA Award Winners!

Our school partners are blazing trails with website upgrades, enrollment campaigns and inspired branding. We’re giving a big round of applause to our partners who recently earned National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) awards for their effective strategic communications work. Join us in exploring their award-winning work and help fuel the CEL-ebration.

Enrollment Campaign

    • Salina Public Schools 305 – “Greatness Grows Here” 

Bond/Finance Campaigns

    • Osseo Area Schools ISD 279 – Building a Better Future, Phase I”

Website Design

    • Osseo Area Schools ISD 279 – Building a Better Future, Phase I” Referendum Landing Pages

Strategic Branding/Images

    • Fox Valley Virtual School
    • Laura Jeffrey Academy

Marketing Publications

    • Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 – HR Recruitment Brochure

NPSRA Gold Medallion award 2023

Salina Public Schools 305

Salina Public Schools 305, Kansas, is the recipient of a prestigious Gold Medallion (NSPRA’s highest award for campaigns) for their exceptional enrollment marketing campaign ‘Greatness Grows Here.’

Salina, like many educational institutions, encountered declining enrollment following pandemic-related disruptions. Recognizing the need to reconnect with families, the district collaborated with CEL to develop a scalable enrollment marketing strategy. Led by Jennifer Camien, the Director of Public Information, the campaign had four clear goals: 

    1. Establish Salina Public Schools as the schools of choice for families within district boundaries. 
    2. Position Salina as the leader in providing whole child education with unmatched opportunities for exploration, enrichment and acceptance. 
    3. Increase awareness of Salina Virtual Innovation Academy among local families who prefer online learning.
    4. Build community perception of equity, that every school in the district is a great place for students. 

This transformative enrollment campaign, driven by six strategic directives, presents replicable and scalable tactics that propelled Salina’s success:

    1. Internal Marketing: Engaging the internal community, including faculty, staff, and administrators, to champion the benefits of Salina Public Schools and foster a sense of pride and belonging.
    1. PR Communications: Leveraging strategic public relations initiatives to disseminate targeted messages, build positive perceptions, and amplify the district’s strengths across various media channels.
    1. Word-of-Mouth Influence: Harnessing the power of word-of-mouth referrals by mobilizing satisfied students, parents, and community members to become brand ambassadors, sharing their positive experiences with others.
    1. Digital Marketing: Crafting a robust online presence through captivating and informative digital campaigns, leveraging social media platforms, search engine optimization, and engaging multimedia content.
    1. Storytelling: Employing the art of storytelling to captivate audiences and convey the unique qualities of Salina Public Schools, emphasizing their commitment to whole child education and unrivaled opportunities for personal growth.
    1. Preschool-Aged Programming and Marketing: Recognizing the significance of early education, Salina Public Schools implemented targeted programming and marketing initiatives tailored to preschool-aged families, establishing a foundation for long-term student success.

This integrated marketing campaign focused on building pride and relationships, enhancing its visual identity to convey strength, consistency, and innovation and coordinating a cohesive outreach and messaging enrollment plan — earning NSPRA’s Gold Medallion award for the team. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Salina Public Schools for this outstanding achievement!

Let Salina Public Schools 305 inspire you to unlock the true potential of your educational institution and create a lasting impact.

NPSRA Gold Medallion award 2023

Osseo Area Schools ISD 279

Osseo Area Schools ISD 279, Minnesota, is the recipient of a prestigious Gold Medallion for their exceptional referendum marketing campaign, ‘Building a Better Future, Phase I.’

Osseo Area Schools, Minnesota’s fifth-largest district with a student population of over 20,000, achieved a remarkable feat in November 2022 by successfully passing a two-question referendum to increase operating and technology revenue, despite challenging tax circumstances. Osseo’s communications team, led by Kay Villella, APR, Director, School/Community Relations, partnered with CEL to develop a comprehensive strategic communications plan that would inform both internal and external audiences.

The ‘Building a Better Future’ campaign aligned with the district’s new strategic plan and is informed by comprehensive quantitative and qualitative research, which guided the campaign’s goals, objectives, timelines, strategies, tactics, and key messages. The district’s primary objective was to pass both referendum questions, and amidst a busy statewide election, their campaign aimed to raise awareness and motivate target audiences to vote by November 8, 2022.

To ensure the success of their communication efforts, Osseo Area Schools implemented a skillful and widespread campaign that reached internal and external audiences. Some of the campaign objectives included ensuring that staff members understood and could share basic information about the referendum, a total increase in community voter turnout and higher rates in certain demographic sectors, and ensuring that parents/caregivers of students in the district were aware of the referendum and voted.

Ultimately both referendum questions passed using a comprehensive and multifaceted communication plan that effectively reached stakeholders and motivated them to participate in the election. Notably, the district’s communications plan proved successful even amidst a crowded ballot that included the governor and all state offices, U.S. House representatives, local legislators, and a city proposal.

With the resounding success of the referendum campaign, Osseo Area Schools now looks ahead to a Phase II bond referendum campaign in 2023. By evaluating the outcomes of the previous campaign and conducting another community survey, the district is gathering valuable data to inform and shape its next endeavor. Osseo Area Schools is committed to continuously enhancing its educational offerings and facilities to ensure a bright future for its students. Congratulations, Osseo!

NSPRA Award of Merit

Osseo Area Schools ISD 279

Osseo Area Schools ISD 279, Minnesota, earned an NSPRA Award of Merit for its referendum website

Building a Better Future is a multi-year plan to service the Osseo Area Schools community as outlined in its new strategic plan. The school district partnered with CEL to help with content strategy and implementation of a microsite with detailed information on the Building a Better Future referendum campaign spanning two consecutive elections. 

Based on community research, the district knew stakeholders preferred to get the bulk of their information from the main district website. Microsite goals included deploying appropriate hero images, videos,  articles, pop-ups, and a frequently asked questions section. In addition, website content was translated using Weglot, ensuring accessibility for all users. The site was linked to all school and program pages and marketed through all school communication channels and materials. 

Phase I of the referendum campaign passed (two questions, an operating levy and technology levy). The microsite is still in use today, as the district moves into Phase II of the campaign. 

Fox Valley Virtual School

Fox Valley Virtual School in Wisconsin earned an NSPRA Award of Excellence for its branding/image package.

Fox Valley Virtual School (FVVS) is a new, free online public school (governed by Menasha Joint Unified School District) serving Wisconsin students and families from 4K to 8th grade. They aim to empower students to explore their personalized learning journey in a safe, trusted environment.

To compete in the growing world of online schools, FVVS needed to: 

    • Develop a cohesive, comprehensive brand 
    • Position FVVS as a top option for online schools for Wisconsin families
    • Build a community of learners who share the values of FVVS
    • Build a strong group of advocates and ambassadors among parents and staff

FVVS leadership, in concert with CEL Marketing PR Design, identified key stakeholders, performed competitive research, analyzed website traffic, and conducted focus groups to ensure that brand elements met the needs and expectations of the Fox Valley Virtual School community. The new brand package included a logo, color palette, patterns, fonts, and a mobile-responsive website that met accessibility standards. Paired with key messages and a digital ad campaign to market the school, FVVS created a lasting brand that set its school apart from the competition and supported lofty enrollment objectives. 

NSPRA Merit Award

Laura Jeffrey Academy, Minnesota

Laura Jeffrey Academy (LJA) earned an NSPRA Award of Merit for its branding/image package.

LJA is a STEM-focused, tuition-free public charter school in St. Paul, Minnesota. Established in 2008, their inclusive, culturally diverse learning environment is open to all middle school students in grades 5-8.

By partnering with CEL, LJA seized the opportunity to refine key messaging, refresh branding, and increase visibility with integrated digital marketing, which increased enrollment growth by 25% year over year.

LJA’s refreshed branding incorporated a bright, fun color palette, a consistent font set appropriate for website accessibility, visual elements including patterns, templates and a refreshed logo for brand consistency, and updated messaging aligned with LJA’s mission. Stakeholder focus groups applauded the updated messaging, taglines, and visual identity as helping capture and solidity the LJA persona.

NPSRA Award of Excellence

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 in Colorado received an Award of Excellence for its ‘Today’s Mission: Love Your Job’ HR recruitment brochure.

Like many schools, Fountain-Fort Carson faced employee recruitment challenges, including nationwide staffing shortages and a highly mobile military community. The district needed to compete for talent in a highly competitive environment. Led by communications director Christy McGee, APR, the communications and human resources teams partnered with CEL to develop hiring/recruitment materials to overcome these challenges.

The recruitment campaign ‘Today’s Mission: Love Your Job’ resonates with FFC8’s audience, who are typically affiliated with the local army post-Fort Carson. Eye-catching collateral (die-cut to showcase the mountain range) and a teaser of FFC8’s value proposition, focused interested personnel on opportunities.

Key messaging provided a glimpse into the benefits of working for FFC8 and living in Fountain, Colorado. Additionally, the secondary message of “No Matter What You Do, We Need You!” supports staff recruitment initiatives for all job seekers (no matter their desired position). The recruitment materials can be used effectively for any hiring event attracting educators, support staff, transportation, security, nutrition, etc.

In addition, a special congratulations to our CEL partners Anoka-Hennepin Schools, Bloomington Public Schools, Eden Prairie Schools, Minnetonka Public SchoolsRichfield Public Schools, Robbinsdale Public Schools, and White Bear Lake Area Schools on their NSPRA awards. View the full list of this year’s NSPRA award recipients on the NSPRA website.

Ready to work on NSPRA award-winning projects, too? Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with our CEL leadership team, and let’s get started today.

Published on: July 12, 2023