Statewide study of school public relations personnel: Roles, responsibilities, relationships, and budget vote outcomes

Catherine Knight, Fordham University


This two-part quantitative study expanded our understanding of school PR personnel in public school districts, particularly those who worked during the 2009-2012 budget years. Four cultural changes have redefined the paradigm of public education and served as a springboard for this study: technology-enhanced communications/ information retrieval, transparency in school district operations, accountability tied to student testing, and the Great Recession. The first section presented key facts, drawn from public information available from New York State, about school PR employment, including the number of school districts that employed PR personnel, the types of school districts most likely to employ them, and the relationship between their employment and budget vote outcomes. The second section included the findings of the researcher-developed School Public Relations Employment Survey, whose respondents represented over 90% of employed school PR personnel in New York State in 2012. The study revealed gender differences in salary, a misalignment of the workload and compensation between state PR employees and their national counterparts, a separation in the level of collaboration and responsibility placed on school PR specialists and their financial compensation, a need for school PR education and ongoing staff development for school administrators, and a need to increase graduate-level education for school PR specialists. The results of this study can be used by district leaders and boards of education to provide the most effective communications to the voting public and examples of actions that predict longevity of school PR personnel as well as aid districts in reducing the potential for budget failure.

Subject Area

Education finance|Educational leadership|School administration

Recommended Citation

Knight, Catherine, "Statewide study of school public relations personnel: Roles, responsibilities, relationships, and budget vote outcomes" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3592034.