Communications Contest

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The Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association invites you to enter the only awards program in Illinois specifically recognizing high-quality school publications and materials that promote the mission and message of a school system. This contest honors publications and materials created by a district, school, education cooperative or foundation.

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  • Annual Report: Report published once a year to summarize activities.
  • Calendar/Handbook: Calendar, handbook, or a combination of the two, containing school activity dates and/or general information on policies/procedures for internal or external publics.
  • Financial Information: Publication providing financial information and accountability.
  • Marketing Piece: Communication used to emphasize the appealing qualities of a district/school/organization.
  • Newsletter (electronic): External or internal electronic newsletter (two different issues must be submitted to qualify as one entry).
  • Newsletter (printed): External or internal printed newsletter (two different issues must be submitted to qualify as one entry).
  • Podcast/Audio Recording: Audio only communications including message board information, news releases/bulletins, promotional announcements, and public service announcements (each entry is limited to a single recording, program, or project).
  • Social Media Campaign: A series of posts/hashtags on a social media platform. An explanation of the mission and engagement of the campaign must accompany the entry.
  • Special Purpose: Any communication piece focusing on the district/school/organization or educational issues (such as a poster or a pamphlet) not included in any other category.
  • Video (in house): A video presentation/episode of a single program or promotional piece produced entirely in-house. Two categories: Under 3 minutes; Over 3 minutes
  • Video (with outside vendor): A video presentation/episode of a single program or promotional piece produced in collaboration with a production company, videographer, or other outside vendor. Two categories: Under 3 minutes; Over 3 minutes
  • Website: Internet or intranet website designed to provide information about, and promote the image of, the education organization.
  • Writing: Information written for publications, scripts, or speeches focusing on the district/school/organization or educational issues.


A panel of three communications professionals judge each entry. This is not a competition among entries; judging is based on standards of excellence. Judges consider factors such as:

  • The clarity of the message
  • The quality of the entry’s writing, design and production
  • The appropriateness of the chosen method of communication for the intended audience


  • Entries must have been published after May 30, 2019.
  • Student work is not eligible.
  • There is no limit to the number of entries that may be submitted.
  • Materials can be entered into more than one category.
  • Items entered as a series are considered one entry.
  • Entries must be submitted electronically.
    • Entries should be submitted as PDFs.
    • Links should be provided for Podcast/Audio, Electronic Newsletter, Video, and Website category entries.
    • Social media campaigns must include screenshots of campaign posts, and insights/analytics data, as applicable.

Entry Fees

  • $45 per entry (if received by midnight, June 12, 2020)
  • $55 per entry (if received by midnight, June 26, 2020)

All applicants will receive notification of the judging results in August. Winning entries are honored at the annual Awards Luncheon, scheduled for Friday, September 11, 2020. Judges' comments will be provided to applicants at the conclusion of the luncheon. 


The Golden Achievement Award recognizes best school communications practices as demonstrated through the four components of a single public relations campaign. Examples of activities, programs, and projects eligible for this award include, but are not limited to:

  • Back-to-school orientation programs;
  • Series of publications, marketing, or media relations designed to accomplish a specific purpose;
  • Support materials for an election;
  • Staff and/or student recognition programs;
  • Community involvement techniques for volunteers, advisory councils, coalitions, non-parents, etc.; and
  • Anniversary celebrations, business-school partnerships, or public engagement initiatives.

Golden Achievement Awards Winner Samples

Criteria & Rules

Each entry must include supporting materials and a one-page summary that clearly demonstrates the four essential steps in all public relations programs as described below. A summary that is longer than one single-sided page will not be accepted. Entries must have been completed after May 30, 2019. One Golden Achievement Award winner will be selected from the qualifying entries. Awards of Excellence and Merit also may be granted based on the judges’ results.

  1. Research - evidence of systematic information gathering to define/understand the problem, publics, perceptions, and/or PR consequences 
  2. Planning - evidence of goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, budget, etc.
  3. Implementation - evidence that activities, including communications, were carried out as planned 
  4. Evaluation - evidence that an objective evaluation component was included in the development of the plan and carried out; success could be measured and was measured; improvements and future recommendations were identified as applicable