With the first quarter coming to a close, many of our members are taking stock of the first three months of 2009 — as are we here at PRSA National, asking ourselves “what have we done for our members lately?”
A major investment over the past year is our revamped Jobcenter. We transformed a previously static job board into a popular, interactive resource — “popular” being important, because making a career move is often about networking and drawing upon the resources of a community. Just last month, we added a new “Ask the Experts” feature to complement the Find a Mentor, Content Library, salary information and free resume posting resources. Last week, CBS’ “The Early Show” featured PRSA’s Jobcenter in a story about finding a public relations job in today’s economy. If you are looking for a job in public relations, spend a few minutes exploring the tools we have available for you, and send us your feedback as we’re always looking for ideas to grow the site.
In March, we focused on providing a members-only program that offers a wide variety of insurance for public relations professionals, including business and personal insurance, at preferred rates — something worth checking out if you are in the market for insurance.
Our program of free professional development continues. This year, we ramped up these offerings, with a goal of holding one free webinar per month. If you missed the last webinar — smart techniques for measuring media outreach — you can still access it via playback. And, if you want to catch the next one live, tune in on April 9 for another free webinar that will feature accelerating your career in public relations.
One advantage of belonging to the world’s largest public relations organization is that there are many ways to belong, and one avenue that hones in on career specialties is PRSA’s 19 Professional Interest Sections. Most Sections recently launched a free trial program that offers a two-month membership in a Section for free — offering you a no-risk way to sample events, news, information and resources provided through Section membership in these specialized PRSA communities. The offer ends April 8, so sign up soon and take advantage of free trial program.
In first quarter of this year, we did a lot of behind-the-scenes work to roll back pricing for PRSA’s 2009 International Conference from last year’s rates, and to secure discounts to make it more affordable in terms of travel and lodging. We also set up an installment plan that gives you the option of paying your Conference fees in four equal payments. Our hotel partner, Marriott, worked with us to reduce room rates, and Delta has worked with us to provide low airfares. Low prices, coupled with rich content, will make the San Diego Conference an efficient, value-packed way for attendees to stay on top of the profession.
We’ve also taken a couple of steps to make it easier for folks to manage their budgets. We continue to offer an automated quarterly payment program for members who wish to pay their dues on an installment basis. We recently established a hardship program to provide some assistance with dues for those members who have been with PRSA for five years or more and find themselves out of work or disabled. Contact Eileen Lintao, member services manager, for further details.
On the communications front, board members have been busy making calls to Chapter leaders throughout the country. This blog — launched in late January — has proven popular, with a building readership and helpful feedback generated from members. The PRSA LinkedIn Group, which is members-only, is growing steadily and now has more than 3,000 members and is a great place to start discussions, ask questions and make connections. We’re also working on a project to further consolidate our e-mail to you, and you should notice the impact of that change over the next month or so.
Some of our work last quarter is longer term. Our Chapter survey is in the field, and we expect to get top-line results in June to help identify our strongest Chapters, which will serve as examples for all Chapters. On the governance front, the PRSA Board of Directors met in January and carefully reviewed recommendations by the Bylaws Task Force, and made its own recommendations in February for changes to the PRSA Bylaws — recommendations that members across the country are being urged to discuss prior to formal consideration of these changes at our annual Assembly in November. The next board meeting is April 17–18 in Washington, D.C., home of our largest Chapter, the National Capital Chapter, where among other things, we’ll discuss the role of communications with respect to public policy as America works to restore the economy.
Finally, I’ve been out meeting members and making new friends. During my tenure on the board, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with members from coast to coast, in small towns and major cities, visiting (or planning to visit) Akron, Birmingham, Bloomington-Normal, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Ithaca, Jacksonville, Knoxville, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, New Haven, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Salt Lake, San Antonio, San Diego, Toledo, Washington and several others along the way. I’ve connected with thousands of members online and face to face.
I understand firsthand that PRSA membership involves you, and we’re working creatively to keep our members at the center of what we do.