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ACS Communications earns five national awards in school public relations

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ACS Communications earns five national awards in school public relations
Tyler Hill

NSPRA Excellence Awards

We're thrilled to announce that the ACS Communications Department has won five Awards of Excellence from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)! These prestigious awards highlight our commitment to strategic, innovative, impactful and community-focused storytelling across various media formats. Check out the awards below!

Award of Excellence in Writing: "Let's Talk About Tennessee's A-F School Letter Grade Sham"

This compelling opinion editorial tackled the controversial rollout of Tennessee's new A-F Letter Grade System and the potential impact of Governor Bill Lee's state-wide voucher initiative. ACS Superintendent Jeff Mayo and the Board of Education were among the first in the state to take very vocal stances against the proposed legislation. This loud stance had a trickle effect across the state, creating a space for other superintendents and districts to speak out about the harmful effects of the legislation. One local reporter described it as the strongest advocacy position they have seen in Shelby County in recent memory.

The piece gained significant traction, being featured in multiple Tennessee media markets and even by The New York Times. Ultimately, the legislation did not pass the legislature, marking a significant victory for public education in Tennessee. Although we may have to gear up to Stop the Sham again this next legislative session, this win demonstrates the power of unified advocacy.

Read the award-winning advocacy piece here!

Two Awards of Excellence in Podcasting: The PEP Talks Podcast

PEP Talks Podcast

We’re excited to have won two Awards of Excellence in Podcasting for our PEP Talks series during its inaugural season! Recognizing the stigma surrounding mental health discussions and the challenges of in-person attendance, we transitioned PEP Talks from an in-person program into a podcast format this past school year. This adaptation allows listeners to engage with sensitive topics at their convenience to give them a more accessible and inclusive platform for dialogue. The podcast was even highlighted by The Daily Memphian!

PEP Talks is hosted by Ja’Neair Johnson and Erin Williams, the district’s Social & Transition Specialists (licensed social workers), and produced and edited by Tyler Hill, ACS Director of Communications & Planning.

Award Winner: "PEP Talks: The Social Media Brain Drain Part I"

In this episode, co-host Ja’Neair Johnson and Tyler Hill delve into the effects of social media on teens. Featuring candid discussions with Arlington High School students, the episode addresses critical online challenges and strategies for fostering a positive digital experience. Its success is reflected in its nearly 535 downloads and widespread sharing on social media.

Award Winner: "PEP Talks: Insights on ADHD from a Professional & Mom"

This episode features Temetric Reeves, an ADHD coach, who shares her personal and professional experiences with hosts Erin Williams and Ja’Neair Johnson. The episode provides practical strategies for parents and aligns with our mission to support mental health and resilience. Garnering about 374 downloads, it has become a recommended resource by our school transition specialists for parents navigating new ADHD diagnoses.

Listen, Subscribe & Download the PEP Talks Podcast Here!

Award of Excellence for In-House Video Production: "Snowed Under: A Comedic Take on School Closures with Superintendent Mayo"

Turning the chaos of snow days into moments of laughter, the "Snowed Under" video series stars Superintendent Jeff Mayo in humorous and creative announcements. Produced and edited by Tyler Hill, Director of Communications & Planning, the series features a lip-dub musical featuring Mayo, principals and employees, a humorous take on a popular TikTok trend, Justin Timberlake and more – you just have to watch!

The “Snowed Under” series saw incredible engagement on social media, with more than 1.6 million views, 386,000+ accounts reached, nearly 1,800 shares and thousands of reactions. The series exemplifies the power of School PR by advocating for unique and engaging approaches to communications. Through laughter and creativity, Superintendent Mayo and the entire district came together to turn snow days into unforgettable moments of joy!

Award of Excellence in Writing: "Winning Gold: A Student's Comeback Story at the Special Olympics"

A heartwarming tale of resilience and triumph, this story chronicles Kyler Bilbrey's journey from dealing with seizures and autism to winning Gold at the Tennessee Special Olympics. Despite setbacks and misunderstandings from coaches and adults unfamiliar with his condition, Kyler's family found hope through the Special Olympics of Greater Memphis (SOGM). There, he found acceptance and camaraderie in flag football, ultimately leading his team, the Memphis Gladiators, to an undefeated gold medal at the Tennessee Special Olympics Fall Games. For Kyler and his family, SOGM became more than a sports organization; it became a supportive community that embraced Kyler's talents and determination. Story written by Tyler Hill

These awards are a testament to our dedication to engaging, informative and community-oriented communication. We’re proud of our team's hard work and creativity in bringing these stories and discussions to life!

In addition to the awards, Superintendent Jeff Mayo will be recognized during the NSPRA National Seminar in Seattle for being named one of only 25 Superintendents to Watch nationwide!