OCCR team recognized as a leader in strategic communications


The Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Communications and Community Relations (OCCR) received a Gold Medal — the highest honor possible — from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for this year VaxUP FCPS communication plan.

The VaxUP FCPS Plan was developed to support FCPS’s goal of providing safe in-person instruction this school year. The emergence of new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus has presented a challenge in meeting community expectations and Virginia law requirements for providing five days of in-person learning.

Raising the stakes even higher, the OCCR team understood that keeping schools open was key to restoring parental and community confidence in FCPS and public education, shaken by the pandemic.

Although the plan is recognized nationally as the best in the country in communications strategy, the behind-the-scenes story is what makes this recognition especially meaningful to the OCCR team.

When it became clear that a plan was needed to keep schools open, OCCR was in the midst of a reorganization that included redefining its purpose and approach to public education communication and community relations. The development and implementation of the VaxUP plan helped increase collaboration within this new team. During the school year, the team not only shared the development and implementation of the campaign, but also the successes and challenges.

“As we worked on the VaxUP FCPS plan, our team transformed,” says Managing Director Helen Lloyd. “While this award honors the collaboration and hard work of all FCPS staff to keep our schools open and safe, it also represents the growth that the OCCR team has experienced individually and collectively during this journey. ‘a year.”

The team’s commitment to providing strategic communications and community relations activities that support FCPS’ mission is stronger than ever.

The gold medallion is the NSPRA’s Best Program Award, recognizing top-quality educational public relations programs and campaigns based on strategic communications best practices. Enrollment can come from public and private schools; community or vocational/technical colleges; state/national education groups; and any agency, consultant or company in partnership with educational agencies. Judging for this highly competitive award is based on criteria as well as other nominations. This year there was a record number of entries, with only four winners out of 64 entries.

Winners receive medallions NSPRA National Seminar and are also invited to present at a panel discussion at the only national professional conference for school public relations professionals.

Two other OCCR projects in community relations and crisis communication have been selected to receive Gold rewards. This award recognizes exemplary work in all aspects of public relations, communications, marketing and school engagement.


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