Posted by ajamison 2 years, 5 months ago

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Earlier this year, I joined the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA). One of the biggest benefits of being in the group has been its active listserv, a “lifeline” for daily networking and mentoring with colleagues from across the state. If you’re facing a crisis or have a question regarding parent letters, social media policies or video streaming at events, this is the group. In a short period, I’ve learned a great deal from its members. Here’s an example of a recent listserv post that I found valuable.

We need to develop protocols for how to credit local businesses and the like that give to our schools. The first order of business is to define the difference between a partner, sponsor and donor. Then how should they be acknowledged online and in print--logo? link to business? explanation of what they do for us? etc.

There were numerous responses, but I really appreciated how one individual defined the roles and also provided examples for the sponsor level.

Partner: An individual, business or organization that provides resources and support on an ongoing basis. You may want to specify a certain number of hours of engagement, face value amount of resources, required meetings, etc. that qualify a partner.
 
Sponsor: An individual, business or organization that provides a financial or in-kind donation based on a particular financial recognition structure or for a specific cause/event/need during a specified period. So, you could have an event sponsor that just provides funds/donations for supporting that particular event or campaign. Or, you could have a district sponsor who provides funds based on a recognition system (i.e., Platinum Sponsor-$1,000, Gold Sponsor-$750, and so forth) established for that year. Each year, the sponsors might change. The time table is important because if a sponsor wants to be recognized on an on-going basis, they either need to re-up their contribution or decide to become a partner.
 
Donor: An individual/business that provides any kind of general financial or in-kind contribution, not based on a specific structure, event, etc.

While our agency doesn't currently have any clients in the education field, there are numerous PR issues discussed that are relevant to various industries. When I first joined the group, I never imagined I would learn so much. It's really opened my eyes to some of the issues that other communicators face. In addition to providing a client lead, I've also been able to contribute by answering questions regarding the APR (Accrediation in Public Relations) process. When you're considering joining a new group, look for opportunities where you can expand your knowledge, but also add value. 

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