For PRSA members who are interested in international public relations, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management (or “GA”) is an important resource that offers valuable networking, information and learning opportunities.
The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA) was formed in Chicago on October 25, 2000, after a Public Relations World Congress sponsored by PRSA and the International Public Relations Association. Its main purpose is to serve as an umbrella for the collaboration of organizations public relations organizations, and has “a mission to enhance the public relations profession and its practitioners throughout the world.” PRSA was a founding member of the GA and has remained active ever since, currently serving as Treasurer of the GA.
At present, the Global Alliance is a confederation of many of the world’s major PR and communication management associations and institutions, representing 160,000 practitioners and educators in approximately 50 member organizations, an impressive reach given the Global Alliance’s resources. In addition to a modest cash budget of about $85,000 from membership fees and sponsorship, the GA also receives valuable “in-kind” support from USI (Università della Svizzera italiana), which has an executive MBA program in communications and contributes much needed staff and infrastructure to the GA.
As a practical matter, the GA provides a forum for the sharing of ideas and best practices, providing information, networking, and opportunities for research and inquiry, for example, into ethical standards and accreditation practices worldwide. In addition, members of one GA member organization benefit from being able to purchase services and benefits from other member organizations at the member rate.
Although over 98% of PRSA’s members reside in the United States, global issues affect all of PRSA’s members, regardless of their place of residence. As a result, PRSA has found that the GA is a very cost effective way to assist PRSA in carrying out four objectives:
- For U.S.-based members, providing them with worldwide resources that make them more effective professionals;
- For U.S.-members working abroad, keeping them connected to their profession and to their respective international markets;
- For non-U.S. practitioners, offering a connection to the U.S. profession while understanding cultural differences;
- Finally, to have a hand in shaping the global profession.
The Global Alliance’s leadership meets periodically, as it did last month in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to hold board meetings, seminars and symposia. Programming last month, which was hosted by Aberje, the Brazilian Association of Business Communications, included:
- A one-day seminar for GA members focused on managing public relations associations, where members had an opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss best practices. PRSA presented to the group on the topic of association finance and fundraising.
- A one-day seminar on public relations in Brazil, with over 100 attendees and presentations from leading Brazilian companies such as Petrobras, the State-owned oil company, and Natura, the leading Brazilian manufacturer and marketer of skin care, cosmetics, perfume and hair care products, which uses a direct sales approach, similar to Avon.
Over two subsequent days of board meetings, the Global Alliance board discussed business old and new, including:
- A review of the GA’s finances, which remain modest and lean;
- A half day strategic discussion of the organization’s value proposition and programming for the months and years ahead;
- The possible creation of an international awards program, as well as an educational travel program for GA members, so that they could travel internationally under GA auspices on a pay-as-you-go basis through packaged tours to learn about PR in other countries;
- The launch of a program of “snap” research sponsored by Grayling, intended to provide a quick look into current issues and trends;
- The admission of a new member from Bangladesh;
- Planning for future GA meetings and events.
In addition, the board discussed the state of planning for the World Public Relations Forum which will be held over November 18–20 in Melbourne, Australia. With a theme of “Communication Without Borders,” the Forum will bring together communicators and academics from around the globe, with a special emphasis on the Pacific/Australasia region, and will be an exciting opportunity for practitioners with an interest in that part of the world to learn and network while visiting a vibrant and exciting city.
The world is more interconnected than ever before—financial crises, health concerns, and security issues cross borders continually. The Global Alliance is an important and cost-effective way for PRSA members to be connected to the places and people that are shaping the international public relations profession.
William M. Murray is president and chief operating officer of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).