Public relations is a fast-paced, competitive field that requires professionals to evolve to survive. That’s why we love it — and it’s also why we need the support system of PRSA. Young professionals especially benefit from PRSA, but the cost after the first two years of Associate Membership can deter them from renewing their membership.
Four key groups stand to benefit if PRSA extends the period for which Associate Member dues last.
1. Public relations students
Public relations students frequently seek to connect with local professionals. Often, the starting points are former PRSSA members and their local Chapter members of PRSA. The more early-career PRSA Associate Members, the more early-career mentors public relations students can access. As an added benefit, PRSSA members who see many young PRSA members will be encouraged to join PRSA when they graduate.
2. The professionals themselves
The tiered approach should help those with expiring Associate Member to financially and mentally prepare to accept the Regular PRSA membership dues rate of $255. The years around Associate Membership ending can coincide with a transition out of entry-level work, losing a trusted colleague to turnover or thoughts about pursuing a new job. This is a time where PRSA’s network and resources can help ground decisions and positively affect work deliverables. Developing a stronger section of membership with three to six years’ experience would mean PRSA is playing a vital role in career progression.
3. Local PRSA Chapters
Aside from just retaining membership in numbers, having a system of tiered Associate Membership dues gives entry-level professionals time, with a reduced fee, to get more involved in local New Professionals Section events and leadership opportunities. As the commitment to the Chapter strengthens, so should the overall commitment level to PRSA. Third- and fourth-year professionals have often started to develop enough validity at work to attend PRSA events such as luncheons or District conferences. A strong core of professionals in years three through six of their careers can set up a thriving community of PRSA leaders to take the reins from those leading today.
For employers who pay for employees’ PRSA membership, extending the length of Associate Membership has two benefits. First, it lowers costs — potentially by a significant amount if there are multiple young employees. Second, having more employees in the first years of their careers constantly learning and developing their leadership abilities outside the office is a win for everyone.
Brian Price is a second-year professional at Edelman’s Chicago office. He currently serves on PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards, New Professionals Section Executive Committee and Section Model Task Force. Brian is also a co-chair of Champions for PRSSA and PRSA Chicago’s PRSSA liaison. He was PRSSA National President in 2013-2014.
Heather Harder is the Immediate Past President of PRSSA and an account executive at Capstrat in Raleigh, North Carolina. She recently became the PRSSA chair of NCPRSA and is a 2014 graduate of Elon University. Find her on Twitter @HeathHarder.