Last year, PRSA introduced a number of new benefits intended to increase the value that we provide to our members. Enhancing member value, of course, is something we try to do all the time; but during a period of economic recession and high unemployment, these efforts took on added significance and relevancy for our members.
Now that many are predicting brighter days ahead for our industry (a StevensGouldPincus survey, for example, found 64 percent of U.S. public relations agencies expect higher revenues in 2010), it may seem logical that we would start to scale back on some of those benefits. On the contrary, we’re building on those benefits in the belief that they will continue to serve our members well in times of economic recovery.
In that spirit, here is a recap of some of the new benefits that we have recently introduced in an effort to enhance our member value.
More Free Learning. Last year we set a goal of offering our members and others in the profession at least one free professional development session per month, and we’re doing the same again this year. On March 30, from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT, we will present “The Rules of Engagement: Increase Visibility and Searchability to Strengthen Your Brand.” And on April 13, from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT, we will offer “Accelerate Your Career in Public Relations: Steps You Can Take Now to Prepare for Your Future.” Be sure to check our professional development calendar for additional free learning opportunities throughout the year.
Section Brown Bags. In good times and bad, it helps if you can rely upon a network of industry professionals who are likely to be dealing with some of the same issues that you are. PRSA’s 16 Professional Interest Sections — micro-communities that focus on issues, trends and research in specialized practice areas and industries — launched a series of free brown bag discussions around topics of specific interest to their members. Regardless of the situation you’re facing, chances are a fellow section member can offer a fresh perspective that will help you manage it effectively.
New Membership Promotions and Payment Options. We’re continuing to look for ways to make it easier for professionals to manage the cost of PRSA membership. For example, we’ve introduced a variety of incentives for new members, such as the inclusion of a Chapter or Section membership for just the cost of national membership. We also now offer an automated quarterly payment program for members who wish to pay their dues on an installment basis, and 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.
Finally, we are continuing — and working to enhance — our members-only insurance program, which offers business and personal insurance coverage at preferred rates. For additional information on any of these programs, contact Member Services Manager Eileen Lintao.
Savings on Travel and Lodging. To make it easier for our members to attend our International Conference, Section conferences and Silver Anvil Awards competition, we’re working aggressively with our partners in the hotel and airline industries to keep room and airfare rates affordable. With prices well below established “rack” rates, how can you afford not to take advantage of these opportunities to learn, network and be recognized for your best work?
A New and Improved PRSA.org. If you haven’t noticed, PRSA completed a major overhaul of its Web site in 2009, garnering awards in the process from the Interactive Media Council and New York Society of Association Executives. New navigation menus are more logical, context-specific and interconnected, making it easier for users to find industry intelligence, access learning resources and build their professional networks. Vastly improved search functionality also helps users find precisely relevant information quickly and easily. Finally, an exciting new feature, “MyPRSA,” allows PRSA members to create their own user profiles and contact lists, and indicate preferences that can be used to deliver news and information that appeals to their individual expertise and interests.
A Retooled Jobcenter. We also made a major investment last year in revamping our 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. Plus, we added a new “Ask the Experts” feature to complement the Find a Mentor, Content Library, salary information and free resume posting resources.
These benefits are just some of the ways that PRSA membership involves you. If you’re taking advantage of them, please let us know what you think. And if you feel that perhaps we’re missing something, let us know that, as well!
William M. Murray is PRSA’s president and COO.