Hashtag This.

This year’s National Public Relations Association Annual Seminar saw more than 900 participants who had the opportunity to attend more than 150 sessions. But the learning didn’t just happen in the meeting rooms, it happened online, too, with the hashtag #NSPRA2018. As with any original, there will be spin-offs. We saw that, too, with public relations practitioners connecting using other hashtags. That’s when the learning got real.

Shortly after the 2015 seminar in Nashville, Tenn., school PR practitioners began connecting and collaborating under the hashtag #k12prchat. This emerging group of leaders found this to be one way to extend the lessons learned from the annual seminar. This year, the group demonstrated a live-chat event during a session to help other practitioners wade into the waters.

In real time (and real life), we found other practitioners who were members of minority groups, who met and connected at NSPRA’s first ever Equity Mixer this year, thanks to the leadership of Vice President of Diversity Engagement Heidi Vega. In a nod to the 2018 blockbuster film Black Panther, this group assumed the identity of #wakaNSPRAForever!

With all the warm welcomes to beautiful Anaheim and Orange Grove, Calif., and plenty to eat and drink, another group of practitioners found one another trying to maintain health and balance far away from home. This group adopted the hashtag #k12prfit and took to the running and walking paths of the city, including the Disneyland area.

The beauty of social media is that we were all able to watch it unfold and join in ourselves, even if we aren’t members of these unofficial groups. That’s okay; you are always welcome to share and grow, and to ask if you don’t know.

If none of these examples work for you, create your own! There is always someone traveling the same journey as you! When we speak of the benefits of NSPRA and its seminar, the little known secret is the biggest benefit you will find are its people, through their leadership, knowledge and friendship.

Representation matters. It matters in our profession and our schools.

As an association, our diversity is our strength. We learn more from when we learn together. No group is monolithic in its beliefs, and neither are your families and employees in your district. Chances are, as we widen our circles to meet and learn from other practitioners from around the nation and Canada, we connected with smaller groups, too. In that effort, we learned that even though we have different challenges and come from different places, we found there is really more commonality than upon first glance. We connected as people to share our own hopes, dreams and frustrations of this crazy, empowering work called school public relations, which has the ability to strengthen communities.

Between now and the next annual seminar, challenge yourself to connect with others who share your journey. Don’t know where to start? Scroll back through your NSPRA photos in your phone of your new connections, and post one as a #ThrowbackThursday with the hashtag #NSPRA2018. Don’t worry; we’ll find you!

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