“Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.”
— James Kouzes
Historically, moments of monumental change have represented opportunity for the public relations profession. Despite the harsh economic realities our country has endured recently, I believe the public relations profession is poised for tremendous growth. However, to realize this potential we, as members, need to commit to retooling, advocating, and practicing our craft ethically and in the best interest of the institutions we represent and the publics they serve.
As PRSA chair and CEO, I am honored to lead PRSA and join with hundreds of other volunteer leaders serving on the Chapter, District and National level in committing to this goal. But forget the titles — they don’t make leaders. Rather, leadership is service to others. We must all take on leadership responsibilities during these unique times and now, perhaps more than ever, is a perfect time to challenge ourselves to join the frontlines as a contributor, an informed professional and an advocate for the profession — both in words and actions.
Last year, several PRSA volunteers helped define the role of leaders in our Society. The task force called on all leaders to “motivate and mobilize members by providing a shared purpose and direction to realize and advance the vision, mission and objectives of PRSA.”
As I prepare for this week’s National board meeting and plan my Chapter visits for 2009, my respect for our volunteer leaders grows, and my hopes for the future of PRSA and the profession intensifies.
Our shared mission, our aspirations, and our struggle are clear — to help communication professionals advance in their careers and to create and foster environments in which public relations professionals can thrive. Here are a few suggestions that may help you become a part of the process.
- Make the most of your Chapter meetings, networking events and professional development sessions.
- Be part of the dialogue — contribute to your Chapter or Section blog through posts or comments.
- Mentor a PRSSA student or someone who is new to the profession.
- Network through your Chapter, District or Section conference.
- Commit to retooling your skills, whether it’s through attending PRSA’s International Conference in San Diego (Nov. 7-10) or a Professional Development seminar, teleseminar or webinar.
- Take advantage of volunteer opportunities available through your Chapter, District or Section.
- Consider volunteering at National Headquarters.
I’m reminded of the inscription above my junior high school’s door, which read simply: “Enter to Learn. Knowledge is Power. Go Forth and Serve.” Those words are more powerful today than when I entered the seventh grade. And they should serve as a reminder to us all of the duty we have as professionals and members of PRSA.
I have no doubt that with a shared vision and collective energies, our public relations community and profession will respond to the challenges ahead and achieve great things.
Michael Cherenson, APR, is the 2009 PRSA chair & CEO.