What Is It That You Do for a Living?

NSPRA members can attest that when they answer the question, “What is that you do for living?,” they normally have to answer a second question: “Why does a school district need a public relations professional, communication specialist, director of public engagement, or whatever title you have?”

You certainly know why, and the more people understand what you do, the more you will increase understanding of the critical role you perform for your school system every day.

The annual NSPRA Seminar which starts in just two weeks in Charlotte, N.C., is probably the only national gathering place where everyone understands what you do for a living. As Jim Van Develde, NSPRA’s Northeast Regional VP notes, the Seminar is the one place where everyone knows your “game.”

In NSPRA’s new 75th Anniversary edition of The Wit and Wisdom of PR Success, veteran Pam Bailey says she is a shipbuilder because she specializes in building relationships. Over the years, I even urged members to consider adding public accountability to their titles because it clearly focuses on a key ingredient of what a great communication effort should be doing for your school community.

We even asked, in twitter-like fashion, in our most recent NSPRA membership survey, “What are you doing now?” See how these responses begin molding a clearer picture of “what is it that you do for a living.”

  • Killing rumors and spreading the truth.
  • Strengthening parent ownership of my district.
  • Enhancing morale, promoting integrity, reducing inaccuracy — and it’s only 10 AM.
  • Teaching my Board that transparency breeds trust.
  • Making money for our district by recruiting non-district students into our schools.
  • Traveling the lonely road of convincing our leaders that engagement is more than saying thanks for doing it our way.
  • Trying to bring “objectivity” to our cabinet meetings and still keep my job.
  • Making it easy for parents to find the info they need.
  • Trying to convince school employees that I am not the district photographer and that I don’t control the media.

Two additional definitions also shed some light on answering the question:

“I give good people (staff and community) good information (accurate, timely, and clear) and help them have good conversations (engagement and facilitation) and they will make good decisions (support for district initiatives) that will increase student achievement.”

“Public relations — the way we practice it — is the glue that holds everything together and the grease that makes it all work. With tight budgets and constraints, it is needed more than ever.”

This list is just a start. We need to demonstrate what we do with results and we need to regularly share those results with key decisionmakers. Everyone in education is dealing with difficult budget situations. Our systems need clarity, understanding, and support now more than ever. Your position — regardless of your title — is the catalyst to make them happen.

And that really is a key answer to what you do for a living.

Rich Bagin, APR, NSPRA executive director

Explore posts in the same categories: accountability, Communication, Education, Professional Development

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