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Three months ago, PRSA began communicating with its members about a series of proposed changes to our national Bylaws, which are intended to modernize our governance structure and make us a nimbler and stronger organization.

Our communications outreach started with a simple blog post, but has now broadened to include a leadership briefing, an e-Group discussion forum on Membernet, a Q&A in PR Strategist and Tactics Online and extensive background information in the Bylaws area of PRSA’s Web site. As the process of rewriting PRSA’s Bylaws continues, we’ll make even more information and resources available to our members.

The goal of these communications has been to provide a directional look at the proposed Bylaws changes, to explain how the recommendations came about, and to express our rationale for them. Our communications also have been intended to serve as a “call to action” to get members involved in the rewrite process and to provide mechanisms for soliciting feedback and encouraging dialogue.

The subject is at once complex and seemingly far removed from the day-to-day concerns of our members — especially during challenging times. Nevertheless, we want to ensure that our Delegates have the information, context and member input they need in advance of our National Assembly in San Diego, where they will be asked to debate and approve the proposed Bylaws changes in a single, day-long session.

For those who so far have not had an opportunity to engage on this subject, here again is a summary of the recommended changes put forward by the Bylaws Rewrite Task Force, and approved by the board of directors:

Membership

  • Expand membership qualifications to allow a broader scope of industry professionals to become members.

Governance

  • Allow the full membership to elect national leaders by popular vote.
  • Transform the Delegate Assembly into a strategic advisory body, while allowing it to retain approval of bylaw changes, Chapter dissolutions and dues structures, as proposed by the board.

Leadership

  • Criteria for National board service amended to include:
     All directors elected at-large.
     APR and/or PRSA leader and/or public relations professional with 20+ years of experience.
     Up to two ex-officio members as selected by the chair.
     Directors to be allowed to serve up to two, two-year elected terms.
  • Criteria to serve on Nominating Committee amended to include:
     APR and/or PRSA leader and/or public relations professional with 20+ years of experience.
  • Composition of Nominating Committee amended as follows:
     Immediate past chair of National board to serve as chair.
     Immediate, immediate past chair excluded from the committee.
     PRSA president/COO to serve as non-voting, non-deliberating ex-officio member.

Over the next few months, as we take the next step of transforming these broad recommendations into specific Bylaws language, we’ll continue to communicate frequently with our members. Future outreach efforts will include:

  • Conducting a series of calls to District and Chapter leaders and former board members.
  • Holding an in-depth discussion with future PRSA leaders at the Leadership Rally in June.
  • Fielding a survey to determine how well our members understand our recommendations.
  • Posting a draft of the new Bylaws language for review and comment by Members, Leaders and Assembly Delegates.

So … what are we asking of you? Please educate yourself on the recommended changes and the rationale for them. Encourage group discussions within your Chapters, Districts and Sections. Find out who your voting Delegates are and offer them your opinions.

Finally, use any of our existing feedback channels to make your voice heard: comment on this blog; submit written questions to governance@prsa.org; join the discussion on our Governance e-Group; or contact me (drickey@alfains.com) or Christina Darnowski (christina.darnowski@prsa.org) directly at any time.

Our shared vision for PRSA is organizational excellence. No matter your discipline, your credentials, your career stage, or your geography, the changes being contemplated are intended to make your professional organization stronger — and we want you to have all the tools and information necessary to participate in shaping our future.

Dave Rickey is chair of PRSA’s Bylaws Rewrite Task Force.

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