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  • Megann Horstead

U46’s public relations efforts honored


Elgin-based School District U46 received four awards of excellence and three awards of merit in the annual communications contest sponsored by the Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association.

Department-wide projects to receive recognition were the annual report publication, an annual report video, a 5Essentials video and social media.

Mary Fergus, director of school and community relations, said efforts have begun to pay off in terms of increased online and social media presence.

"We had about 5,500 likes on Facebook in the past," she said. "Now, we're close to 10,000 likes."

Last spring's launch of the district's app brought more exposure, she said.

"With the app, we're close to 10,000 followers, so that's great," she said. "A lot of people have smart phones but don't necessarily have computers."

The award-winning annual report video was a first for the district. Fergus said she collaborated with multimedia editor Maria Wojnicki to showcase different voices from across the U46 community.

That production, which is available on YouTube, probably will be repeated this year, Fergus said.

Her office is in the middle a full-day kindergarten campaign, featuring videos, newsletters, fact sheets, first-day T-shirts for all teachers and a parental engagement piece.

They also offer a bi-weekly bilingual parent e-newsletter.

"We currently have a hashtag #WeAreU46 that represents what we're trying to share," she said. "We're a large district, we're one district … I think we have a lot to offer and I'm privileged to tell that story with our team."

Videos winning merit awards, all filmed by Wojnicki, include:

• SandersClaus, written by and featuring District U46 Chief Executive Officer Tony Sanders

• U46 Honors Veterans

• Superintendent's Scholarship

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