Advocacy PRSA News

Are You Being Served?

I was sitting in the Social Security office this morning girding myself for the uphill swim through bureaucratic paperwork to become an official “senior citizen.” Not overly optimistic about the prospect (of the “swim”), but faintly hopeful.

A bazillion years ago, I worked for the federal government, and I’ve been hauling a boatload of memories of the hoops I had to jump through to get my own business done as a public affairs specialist.

But now? Online pre-interview followed by a brief in-person wrap-up. Reasonably efficient and satisfactory. What a change in service!

While waiting for my name to be called, I started reflecting on my 30-year association with PRSA and the changes I’ve witnessed from the “being served” aspect of my professional life.

What improvements had I experienced that helped me do my job better? What changes had been implemented that helped me make a case for pursuing a particular course of action on behalf of my employer?

In looking back, I see clearly the ways in which I have turned to PRSA’s vast repository of resources for ideas or for validation of a course of action that I was proposing.

Whether it was case studies that provided a framework for programs to enhance my employer’s reputation or simple, clearly-stated ethical guidelines for dealing with business challenges, PRSA has long been my “go-to” site.

And today, as the Society continues to evolve, the business value of PR expands, with PRSA leaders speaking out on key issues and emphasizing the role that public relations professionals play in guiding management in its decision-making process.

If you look at the PRSA website under the “Intelligence” tab you see three significant areas in which the Society is working to emphasize the value of public relations in the business world: Advocacy, Ethics and Diversity.

Are these new concepts? No.

“Then what’s the deal?” you might rightfully ask.

The “deal” is that PRSA, as an organization and as a collection of individuals representing a multitude of backgrounds, is speaking out — making it clear where the collective public relations profession stands on a range of business and societal issues.

From blog posts to op-ed pieces to letters to the editor, the voice of PRSA is being heard domestically and internationally.

But PRSA is not resting on its 60-plus-year record of representing the public relations profession and public relations professionals. Changes are continually being implemented to meet the needs of today’s communication environment.

The Society’s online presence has grown into a robust interactive entity that ensures members are kept up to date on events occurring across the globe. From the daily “Issues and Trends” to regular announcements of professional development/training sessions, PRSA has an abundant mix of opportunities for members to be both current and relevant in today’s fast-moving world.

What more would I like to see? That’s easy, from my armchair-quarterback position. More of everything! More editorials; more op-eds; and more PRSA faces visible in the media and at the podium.

More than that, I would like to see more visibility at the chapter level — more local chapter leaders being interviewed by their local media on business issues ranging from disaster relief to rampant legislative tweeting. Our credibility as a professional organization will only become stronger if we are seen as credible sources to whom the media will turn for comment.

That is when, in my opinion, PRSA will have made its mark on the business world and, when asked, “Are You Being Served” as a PRSA member, the resounding response will be “Yes!”

About the author

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Associate Professor of Communication (Undergraduate) at Curry College in Milton, MA. Prior to his move into academia, Kirk practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the US as well as Asia. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Kirk was inducted into PRSA’s prestigious College of Fellows in 2009 and is one of just two actively-teaching college professors in Massachusetts to have earned this distinction. You can read more of Kirk’s musings at his blog “A Professor’s Thought” and follow him on Twitter @KirkHazlett.


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