2021 CalSPRA Excellence in Communication Awards
Submission Deadline02/01/2021

2021 CalSPRA Awards Program Overview

CalSPRA’s Excellence in Communication Awards program recognizes the successful efforts of education agencies and the communication professionals in producing materials and services that meet the information needs of communities throughout our state. It is open to those who serve in communication and public relations roles in K-16 educational institutions.

This year’s Excellence in Communication awardees will be recognized virtually at the 2021 CalSPRA Annual Conference in March 2021.


  • Any person with public relations, communications, and/or publication responsibilities in public or private K-16 education may submit entries for consideration.
  • Award entries must have been created, implemented, and measured between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020


There are three primary categories, with multiple opportunities to submit within each:

Comprehensive Program or Campaign

A comprehensive program or campaign is a fully developed communication, marketing, or engagement effort that included multiple tactics. Entries will be judged on their application of the four-step PR process.

  • Ballot measure information campaign: An informational campaign designed to build voter awareness, understanding, and support for voting on an organization’s bond or parcel tax ballot measure.
  • Crisis Communication & Issues Management: Programs undertaken to deal with a crisis event or an issue with broad impact on system trust and reputation.
  • Special Events: A one-time program to honor, commemorate, celebrate, or recognize. The duration of this program may be a single day to a full year.
  • Internal Communication Campaign: Programs targeted specifically to employees or other special publics directly allied with an organization.  
  • Social Media Campaigns: A campaign executed online using a single or multiple social media applications to inform or engage a target audience.
  • Marketing Campaign: A comprehensive program intended to increase support for, perception of, or enrollment in an organization, school, special program or other organizational opportunity or priority.
  • Community Engagement Campaign: Programs that seek to win the support or cooperation of; that aim to improve relations with; or seek to gather decision-making input from; the communities in which the organization has an interest, need, or opportunity.


Specific activities or action taken as part of a formal campaign or independently. Entries are judged based on a short written description of the entry’s purpose as well as writing quality and/or layout and design.

  • Media relations: A single media relations tool used to generate media coverage for an event, topic, organization, or other purpose.
  • Annual Report: Electronic or printed version of your organization’s Annual Report.
  • Feature/Editorial Writing: An original article, column, or essay written to entertain or educate a target audience about an event, topic, organization, or other purpose.  
  • General Publications/Collateral Materials: Electronic or printed work that is distributed to communicate to stakeholders, including but not limited to: posters, calendars, brochures, fliers, etc.
  • Multimedia/Visual Communication: The presentation of information to a target audience using digital/multimedia tactics, including but not limited to: Videos, photos, infographics, motion graphics, graphic design and social media.    
  • Logo design: Logos designed as part of a rebrand of your organization, school, or department.   
  • Newsletter: Printed or electronic newsletter used to inform your stakeholders in a consistent, routine format.
  • Internet/Intranet/Website: Have you enhanced, improved, or redesigned a website to meet an organizational objective?

Special Recognitions

California Gold

This award is the entry from the Comprehensive Programs or Campaigns with the overall highest score.

Communicator of the Year

Recognizes a school communication professional with 5 or more years’ experience in school PR, who has distinguished professional accomplishments, service to CalSPRA and service to the profession. Nominations should address the candidate’s contributions to the field of school communication and commitment to improving the field.

Emerging Communication Leader

Recognizes a school communication professional with 1-4 years’ experience, who already has demonstrably contributed to the profession and is expected to continue advancing the profession.

Judging and Awards

  • All submissions  in the Comprehensive Program or Campaign category will be judged based on entries’ application of the four-step PR process:
    • Research: Purpose, challenge, concern, or opportunity clearly defined; desired outcome and gap explained; situational analysis completed; use of primary, secondary, formal and/or informal research demonstrated.
    • Planning: Target audiences identified; measurable objectives clearly established; key messages and strategies targeted to each audience and crafted to achieve outcomes stated in objectives.
    • Implementation: Describe how plan was executed, any challenges experienced, and how overall implementation of strategies and tactics were handled.
    • Evaluation: Did you meet your stated objectives? What efforts were made to analyze results and measure effectiveness?


  • Submissions in the Tactics category will be judged based on a short written description of the entry’s purpose as well as writing quality and/or layout and design.
    • Purpose: audience is defined, as is the piece’s purpose; information presented is clear and easy to understand
    • Writing quality: language and writing style are appropriate; writing is error-free; key messages and call to action are included
    • Layout and design: design is appealing and enhances readability; brand/image is portrayed and reinforced; graphic elements enhance layout


  • To ensure objectivity, no current CalSPRA Executive Board members will take part in any aspect of judging. Volunteer judges who are practicing public relations professionals will be assembled by Kindra Britt, CalSPRA immediate past president.
  • To further ensure fairness in submission evaluation, judges will now take into consideration an entry’s total budget (i.e., available resources) and size of district.
  • Submissions will be scored on a 100-point scale and awarded a “Merit” level if the combined score is between 80-90 points. Submissions scoring 90 or higher will be awarded at the “Excellence” level.  The categories are not competitive, so some categories may have multiple winners, while some may have none.


  • Comprehensive Program and Tactics categories: $40 each ($50 for non-CalSPRA members). 
  • Special recognitions: Free

Make checks payable to: CalSPRA

Send checks to:

Ryan Foran

c/o Arcadia Unified School District

150 S 3rd Ave.

Arcadia, CA 91006

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