35 Under 35: Mitchell Roush
Every other year, NSPRA’s 35 Under 35 program recognizes school public relations professionals who are making a difference for their school districts or education-related employers.
Mitchell Roush is the Director of Communications and Marketing for Grand Island (Neb.) Public Schools. Read this recent interview with Mitchell Roush and learn why he is a 35 Under 35 award winner and why he’s #HerefortheKids.
How many years have you worked in school PR?
What have you found to be the most rewarding part about working in school PR?
Celebrating our students and teachers. Whether it’s catching a group learning exercise, covering a schoolwide event, snapping photos at reading time, tagging along on a field trip, capturing show choir footage or interviewing high school students about their future aspirations, spotlighting our diverse student experiences is what it’s all about. And watching our expert teachers invest into their development is about as inspirational as it gets. We’re here for the kids. Our community never tires of hearing how our students are learning to grow, do and become. When in doubt, visit a classroom. It’s the best dose of B12 out there.
What have you found to be the most challenging part about working in school PR? How do you approach those challenges?
The fluidity of social media. While social platforms have been a catalyst for our growing arena, there are just as many inconsistencies as there are treasures. Social media isn’t going away and the benefits of having these avenues to showcase our district are valuable. All that being said, the frustrations found within social media are exhausting for any school PR pro, especially our tendency as users (myself included) to over rely on the information shared on social media whether credible or not. Overall, social media brings opportunities to listen and engage in dialogue. The task at hand as school PR pros is to do everything we can to ensure we don’t lose nuance and that we cultivate spaces of trust, celebration and respect. Social media is fun and *can be* meaningful… but it’s also the wild west.
What has been your most fulfilling professional experience thus far?
Building relationships with the people in our public school district. A person is only as strong as their team, and I’m fortunate to be surrounded by incredible folks who are experts in their field. Our mission at GIPS is “Every Student, Every Day, A Success!” and I can honestly say that everyone—administrators, principals, curriculum coaches, teachers, paraeducators, translators, creatives, nutrition staff—is fueled by that charge. I learn something new from someone awesome in our district every day. Between that and the fun storytelling opportunities, it doesn’t get much better. I’m grateful to be here with these people doing this work.
Are there any emerging trends in school public relations that excite you?
Podcasting. While the format has slowly become the “new blogging” in the mainstream the last decade, I think we’re about to see a boom of podcasts in school districts — which is fabulous! Podcasting provides avenues to go longform in unpacking deep, nuanced methodologies in education. We have certainly found that avenue valuable in the short time since we’ve launched ours. Families love learning more about the learning taking place in a classroom. Podcasting provides unique opportunities to amplify teacher and student voices while going more in-depth than a two minute news interview may provide. Because for school PR, it’s all about storytelling. Podcasts are a bevy of creative opportunities to spotlight our districts.
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