Reflecting On the PRSA 2011 Membership Satisfaction Survey

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Editor’s Update (Aug. 31, 2011): Some PRSA members have asked to see the complete results of our 2011 membership satisfaction survey. The top-line findings are available here and can be downloaded at the end of this post. For competitive reasons, some proprietary information pertaining to PRSA’s products, services, membership and marketing have been excluded. PRSA members may request access to specific data from the survey by sending an email

PRSA members are many things. They are public relations professionals, first and foremost. Industry leaders, Silver Anvil Award winners, mentors, educators, senior professionals, new professionals and a whole host of other descriptors also apply.

In short, they represent the best of the diverse and growing public relations profession.

They are also incredibly satisfied with the value of their PRSA membership.

All of this and more was detailed in PRSA’s latest Membership Value Perception and Satisfaction Study. As a data-driven organization, we strive to measure the impact and value of PRSA’s services. Conducted every three years, our 2011 Membership Satisfaction Study revealed numerous positive indicators concerning PRSA’s growth, its value to the profession and our members’ role and value to their clients and employers. The study surveyed current PRSA members, lapsed members and non-members.

A few highlights:

  • Member satisfaction has improved since 2008. Seventy-nine percent of current members report that they are likely to renew their membership. Active Chapters remain vital to member satisfaction.
  • PRSA’s Code of Ethics remains the most valuable member benefit — unequivocally.
  • Access to current news and information, advocacy and professional development are all exceedingly important to PRSA members.
  • Seniority, by itself, has little impact on public relations professionals satisfaction with PRSA. Career stage is more complex than the typical references as junior, mid-level and senior.
  • When it comes to professional development, members prefer free webinars* and show the most interest in strategic planning, social media and measurement and evaluation.
  • Promoting the value of public relations to the business community is the advocacy initiative of choice for members and non-members.

* PRSA announced recently that with the passage of a proposed dues increase, it will be able to provide all PRSA webinars free to all members.

PRSA members are unequivocal in their appreciation of the value of their membership. When members who also belong to other related professional organizations were asked to compare their satisfaction of PRSA to that of similar professional organizations (Arthur W. Page Society, International Association of Business Communicators, National Investor Relations Institute, etc.), PRSA scored highest among them. PRSA also scores favorably compared to some of the world’s most respected companies, ranking in line with two of the largest and most efficient global shipping firms.

The Membership Satisfaction Study also looked at the demographics of PRSA’s membership, which showed, in part, the following:
    • Like the broader public relations profession, our membership skews female (70 percent).
    • Nearly 40 percent of members report directly to the CEO. This advances PRSA’s long-held goal to increase the C-suite presence of public relations professionals.
    • PRSA members represent some of the most experienced professionals in public relations, with 62 percent in mid- or senior-level positions and 38 percent having worked in the profession for more than 20 years.
    • Members work in a variety of functions:

o Corporation – 25.4%

o Public Relations Agency – 17.6%

o Educational Institute – 16.9%

o Nonprofit/Association – 16.4%

o Government/Military – 12.0%

o Independent Practitioner – 5.2%

o Professional Services – 1.8%

o Other – 4.7%

Above all, our members are looking for opportunities to advance their career and to mentor others. Our membership is full of influential thought leaders (we call them “Giveback Seniors”), who are eager to help colleagues advance in their careers. This has been at the core of PRSA’s mission for more than 60 years — to advance the public relations profession and professional — and it is very encouraging to learn that our members live this ethos so fervently.

This year’s Membership Satisfaction Study confirms the significant value we believe PRSA offers members and the public relations profession. But there is still more work to be done to ensure you receive the greatest value for your membership, and just as importantly, that PRSA helps advance the public relations profession.

You can rest assured we’re working every day to help you become better and more valuable public relations professionals.

Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, is chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America.

About the author

Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, Fellow PRSA

Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the Vice President of Corporate Communications at Wells Fargo & Company, Florida. Fiske was PRSA's Chair and CEO in 2011.


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