This year’s first quarterly meeting of PRSA’s Board of Directors—my first, as Chair—was held Jan. 22 – 24, at PRSA headquarters in New York. We welcomed nine new Directors, whose energy and enthusiasm were immediately apparent from the spirited discussions of the Society’s 2009 policies, operations, and major initiatives that took place over the three days.
The meeting kicked-off—somewhat uncharacteristically—with a “Pulse of the Profession” roundtable discussion, which focused on three main areas: the major issues of concern currently confronting our industry, the economic downturn’s impact on our industry, and the best ways to measure and communicate public relations’ value. Leslie Backus, Deb Silverman, and Gail Winslow-Pine represented the PRSA Board, while executives from Text100, MasterCard International, and Siemens Corp. provided their own unique external perspectives. Look for the roundtable to be featured in the Spring issue of The Public Relations Strategist, and discussed further in future posts here.
The Board next turned its attention to four major initiatives that will characterize 2009, the first of which is a revision of PRSA’s Bylaws. The Board heard from the Bylaws Rewrite Task Force, which proposed a series of changes in keeping with modern governance theories and current best practices in association management. The Board voted to accept most of the Task Force’s recommendations, and requested additional information before rendering a decision on the balance. A final decision on which Bylaw revisions will be recommended to the Assembly in November will be made on our February Board of Directors call. We will be communicating with our members regarding the proposed changes throughout the year, so please watch for those communications and let us know your thoughts.
Another major initiative the Board discussed is a survey of PRSA Chapters. Member research shows that Chapters lend value to PRSA as an organization, and that members’ experiences at the Chapter level are an important indicator of their overall satisfaction. A broad survey of Members about their Chapter experiences will enable PRSA to identify best practices by Chapter and set benchmarks that will help all our Chapters excel.
A third initiative moving forward is something we’re calling, “The Business Case for Public Relations.” This advocacy project is intended to provide a focused platform that will help build global demand for the practice of public relations by explaining its roles, outcomes and value, and by enhancing its image among important constituencies. As this is a new concept, a task force is being formed to help develop the idea and create an overall project plan.
Finally, the Board was updated on the status of the redesign of PRSA’s Web site, which we know our Members are anxious to see come to fruition. Phase I of the project—establishing the graphic design and top-level navigation—is nearly complete, with Phase II—designing the technical specifications and building the infrastructure, about to commence.
The meeting closed with each Board Member sharing his or her personal vision for PRSA, consistently sounding themes of working to serve our members and their needs during these challenging times, better connecting our Members with the Society overall, and amplifying PRSA’s voice as an industry thought leader. All in all, it was a great way to start the year, with exciting initiatives and passionate and involved Board Members. There’s a lot more to say on these and other issues, and I’m looking forward to discussing all of it with you in the weeks and months ahead.
Michael Cherenson, APR, is the 2009 Chair & CEO of PRSA.