The San Diego County Office of Education’s Communications team was recently awarded the 2021 Edward L. Bernays Special PR Team of the Year Award by the Public Relations Society of American San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter.
The Special Awards honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the public relations profession in San Diego and Imperial Counties and were announced on November 18.
The Communications team includes Music Watson, APR, chief of staff; Stacy Brandt, APR, communications specialist; Cyndi Hawkes, communications media assistant; Bob Mueller, special projects coordinator; Jennifer Rodriguez, communications specialist; Nicole Shina, special programs planner; Monica Ventura, communications support assistant; and Samantha Womack, communications specialist.
“I am so proud of the work our team has produced over the past two years,” Watson said. “It was an especially challenging time, and to be recognized by our professional peers is further validation of our team and their expertise.”
The Communications team assumed responsibility for COVID-19-related rules with a robust effort to educate and inform school leaders and staff, the community, and its internal audience of employees, many of whom were actively engaged in their own communication effort focused on challenging new rules and processes.
As the pandemic evolved, SDCOE team implemented a flexible communications strategy focused on COVID-19 mitigation and response protocols to help schools could operate safely and inform families and the public what to expect. The team needed to work within changing public health and school operations guidance, communicate changes, share resources, and assess feedback throughout the process.
“Since March 2021, the Communications team has been instrumental in supporting districts and schools navigate their ever-changing roles and updated COVID protocols," said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. “I am grateful for their work on behalf of the 42 school districts, charter schools, and private schools in the county, and I think this is a very well-deserved honor for our team and recognition of their work and dedication.”
Some highlights of the Communications team’s COVID efforts, which led to their Special PR Team of the Year award:
- Conducted or coordinated hundreds of interviews with state, local, and national media on the pandemic’s impact on K-12 education.
- Supported the County of San Diego in weekly K-12 Education Sector telebriefings, allowing school staff at all levels and parents the chance to hear from COVID-19 and school operations experts on mitigation measures.
- Created dozens of template letters in English and Spanish to support school districts, charter schools, and private schools in communicating with parents and employees on COVID-19-related topics. These letters ensure schools speak with one voice on key topics such as COVID cases on campus and new/changing regulations.