Annual Spring Conference: Charting the Course

  • WSPRA Annual Conference


    Registration is now openEarly registration ends Tuesday, April 16. 


    • Early Registration - Member*: $175 (ends April 16) 
    • Early Registration - Non-Member: $235 (ends April 16) 
    • Registration - Member*: $225
    • Registration - Non-Member: $285
    • Guest Registration for WSPRA Awards Banquet: $35

    *To receive the member discount on registration, make sure your WSPRA membership is up to date. 2017-18 WSPRA memberships expired on August 31, 2018. Please make sure you have renewed your membership for the 2018-19 school year before you register for the workshop. Visit our membership page to join or renew your membership: 


    Wednesday, May 1

    3:00-5:00 p.m.        Registration at Enzian Inn

    6:30-8:30 p.m.        No-host dinner at South or Visconti’s

    Thursday, May 2

    7:00-8:00 a.m.          Breakfast

    8:00-8:30 a.m.          Registration & Coffee

    8:30-9:30 a.m.          Welcome & Introductions - Melissa Laramie, WSPRA President  

    9:30-10:30 a.m.       How to Make a Communications Plan Your Road Map to Success Carol Fenstermacher, APR, NSPRA President

    You wouldn’t start out on a cross-country road trip without looking at a map—or plugging in your final destination to your GPS—so why not map out a plan to help accomplish your communication goals? During this presentation, we’ll go step-by-step on how to develop a communications plan. Learn how to set goals and objectives and identify tools and tactics that will make the journey easier. And finally,we’ll look at ways you can ensure your plan doesn’t just gather dust on a bookshelf. Hint: It has to do with your evaluation.

    10:30-10:45 a.m.      Break

    10:45-11:45 p.m.      Strike Communications: A Regional Perspective from the Hotbed of Activity  - Lori Oberheide (Assistant Superintendent of Communications and Public Engagement) and Monique Dugaw (Director of Communications and Public Engagement), Educational Service District 112 

    At the start of the 2018 school year, and fresh into what many have called the state’s “McCleary Mess,” Southwest Washington was the epicenter of strike activity. Of the 14 school districts on strike in the state of Washington, seven striking districts were located in the ESD 112 region in Southwest Washington and many leaned on ESD 112 for guidance and support. In this presentation, those on the front lines will share lessons learned and discuss plans for the next wave of labor negotiations. Topics that will be discussed include:

    • What worked and what didn’t
    • Pre-planned messaging
    • Updates
    • Media relations
    • Social media management
    • Healing after the work stoppage
    • What to consider if you are approaching negotiations

    11:45-1:00 p.m.        Lunch

    1:00-2:30 p.m.          Lessons from the Frontiers of Data Storytelling - Catherine Hinrichsen, APR, Project Director, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness  

    Learn best practices for linking stories to data to advance your goals with policymakers, media, donors, community and more at this session. The presenters, who collaborate through funding from the Gates Foundation, will share data visualization and storytelling tools, apps and platforms, data and storytelling initiatives such as StoryCorps and The Month as well as outreach events that break the panel-discussion mold—and have made changes in Washington state public policy. You will walk away with new strategies, skills and tools for connecting the data to the people behind the numbers.

    2:30-2:45 p.m.           Break

    2:45-3:45 p.m.          Power in the Palm of Your Hand - Create Professional Looking Videos on Your Smartphone! - Kelly Guenther, North American Video Specialist, Shootsta  

    Bring your smartphone, because in this session you’ll create a pro-looking video for your organization and ideally post it on one of your channels by learning just what your iPhone is capable of simple techniques and cheap tools professionals use, and just as importantly—how to find and adjust video and camera settings on the fly. Smartphones have surprising video and microphone functions that rival the quality of broadcast television cameras from just a few years ago. Match that technology with the growing need for ‘authentic’ video content across an organization’s channels and your phones’ ability to upload anywhere—and you end up with a lot of power in the palm of your hand.

    3:45-4:00 p.m.           Adjourn

    5:00-6:00 p.m.           Cocktail Hour

    6:00-8:00 p.m.           Awards Banquet Dinner

    Friday, May 3

    7:00-8:30 a.m.           Breakfast

     8:30-8:45 a.m.           Welcome - Melissa Laramie, WSPRA President    

    8:45-9:45 a.m.           Listen to your Heart and Align to your Purpose - L. Michelle, Executive Director of Communications, Issaquah School District

    It’s not a secret, but we don’t talk about it either. Public Information Officers experience tremendous personal and professional stress on the job. It is our duty and obligation to answer to multiple stakeholders—from teachers, administrators, parents, business owners, voters and elected officials at large. We also answer to federal and state legislators and the politicians who govern us and often depend on us. We do this to provide answers during school shootings, natural disasters, spurious lawsuits, emergencies, social media scandals, and never before seen levels of political divisiveness. Our stakeholders demand answers from us that only society as a whole can truly answer, and yet we must respond over and over again to that never-ending question: “What are YOU doing about… keeping kids safe at school, addressing homelessness, improving air quality, traffic congestion, and creating jobs…” the demand for answers goes on and on. How do we stay positive and dedicated to our true purpose, both in our professional and personal lives, under so much strain? In this workshop, learn powerful strategies that will help you to realign your sense of purpose and your passion for the work.

    9:45-11:15 a.m.           Are you Communicating a Reflection of Reality - Heidi Vega, Director of Communications, Arizona School Boards Association

    Is your district’s brand one of equity and inclusion? Are you accurately showcasing diversity that reflects the community you serve? From the images you are using to the teacher recruitment strategies, it all sends a message. During this workshop, learn what contributes to delivering a message that your organization values its members and the students they represent. 

    11:15-11:30 a.m.        Break 

    11:30-1:00 p.m.        Gold Mine Roundtables

    Gather a treasure-trove of best practice ideas on a variety of topics to try in your district. Here’s your chance to attend three mini-sessions of 25 minutes each. Participants will rotate tables three times, with the same presentation repeated for a different group each time (think school PR speed dating!). This is your opportunity to capture the best ideas from your colleagues in a time-saving format.

    1:00 p.m.                  Closing Remarks and Survey - Melissa Laramie, WSPRA President  

    1:00-3:00 p.m.         Lunch on Your Own & Implementation Planning with Colleagues

    Hotel Accommodations 

    Enzian Inn

    Reserve your room at the Enzian Inn by April 1 to secure our group rate of $110 + tax/night. Call (800) 223-8511 and use code 10174. The rooms from our block will be released after April 1. Rooms booked after April 1 will still get the group rate but there is no guarantee that rooms will be available. No-Host Dinner

    No-Host Dinner

    Want more time to network with your WSPRA friends? Join us for a no-host dinner on  Wednesday, May 1. You will have the choice of eating at Visconti's, South or Gustav's. We will meet at the restaurants at 6:30 p.m. If you would like to eat at one of these restaurants, please indicate which one when registering.


    Thank you to all of our sponsors for making our annual conference possible!

    Keynote: West/SchoolMessenger

    West/SchoolMessenger Logo

    Signature Sponsors: K12 Insight, Peachjar, FinalSite, Strategies 360, WA529, MarketVolt 

    K12 Insight
    S360 Logo
    WA 529 Logo
    MarketVolt logo

    Event Sponsor: Blackboard

    Blackboard Logo

    Banquet Sponsor: eSchoolView

    Banquet Sponsor: eSchoolView