Gaining Support and Trust from School Leaders

NSPRA members Keith Imon and Phil Kavits of the Prince William School District (VA) are two well-respected pros in our field. Both shared their expertise and wisdom in NSPRA’s most recent Power Hour on Building Organization with Effective Communication.

One call-in question dealt with this dilemma: How can a professional help build trust when superintendents or school board leaders don’t understand the impact of a truly comprehensive and strategic program?

Simply put, it is difficult to help leaders lead when they do not recognize the value of school communication in their systems.

I admit that this remains a major frustration in our profession. NSPRA has provided a great deal of helpful information, actual data, and anecdotal persuasive stories through the communication accountability program (CAP) on our website at

But Phil Kavits gave us all a good tip for how to make the PR function a bit more personal for our school leaders. He urges us to ask individual board members and superintendents this one critical question:

What is the question you most dread being asked?


What is the one question you hope you will never be asked?

Most of us have seen trust in our leaders diminish and support take a nose dive when tough questions receive either weak answers or no answers at all.

Both Phil and Keith urge you to begin helping your leaders work through  responses to these questions. They noted that you will help  insulate them from the perceived problem and actually begin an “inoculation” program that builds their confidence to deal with public statements about their system. (I must admit that you first need to run this exercise by your superintendent and receive a “green light” to put it into play.)

And best of all, this process can easily grow into a triple play:

  • First, it  begins opening relationships with your leaders in helping them solve a problem.
  • Second, it demonstrates how one aspect of communication can build more support for your schools.
  • And finally, it increases the value of the communication program and your efforts for your schools.

Rich Bagin, APR

NSPRA Executive Director

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