Each year a new class of aspiring public relations professionals exits the doors of our colleges and universities with ambition and enthusiasm for the start of their career. This is when the leap from student to professional is most critical.
PRSA’s Associate membership provides an avenue for assisting students in making that transition from student to PR pro without the financial hardship that sometimes is difficult for recent graduates. To date, the Associate membership option has been a two-year introduction to the many member benefits of PRSA. Unfortunately, following that honeymoon period, more than 50 percent of Associate members fail to renew their membership due to the increased cost. The jump to Regular membership can be almost double for some and for PRSSA/Affiliate students even greater. Salary studies show that income does not increase at the same rate over the course of a two-year period.
In an effort to curb member attrition and financial hardship on one of our most important professional audiences, we are asking PRSA Leadership delegates to support a revision to the dues structure for Associate members.
We know from our membership survey, that if a member remains with the Society for three years, they will likely remain throughout their career. This two-year period is the critical point to ensure our association remains full of future professionals, those who will someday lead the Society and drive our profession.
By adding just one year to the tiered dues structure, a third level (Associate 3) would allow young professionals to gradually transition to Regular membership. Closing this gap would result in retaining approximately 400 members each year with a modest uptick in retention.
For PRSSA/Affiliate students, this would give them a 4-year period to transition and all other Associate members a 3-year period to become Regular members. Associate membership does not mean you sacrifice any of the many member benefits available through PRSA; rather it is an open-arm gesture by the Society that recognizes these early years can be taxing to an aspiring PR pro.
The Society is proposing that a dues progression of ($60 for PRSSA/Affiliate members in year one) $115-Associate, $155-Associate 2, $200-Associate 3 be implemented with transition to Regular membership at $255 in the fourth (or fifth for PRSSA/Affiliates) year. This scale gives young professionals the chance to grow with PRSA as they grow in their career. This is also a chance for PRSA to grow as well with a vital, talented pipeline of professionals. If we choose not to support the amendment, this loss of potential talent and members will continue to grow.
Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA currently serves as Treasurer on the PRSA National board of directors and has served as the 2007 National PRSA Delegate At-Large; 2006 Western District Chair and 2003 president of the Colorado PRSA Chapter. Jane received the PRSA 2010 Small Business Award and is a 2011 Silver Anvil winner. Most recently she was named the 2012 Swede Johnson Lifetime Achievement recipient. Follow Jane on Twitter @JKDJane.
I think it is a great idea to introduce a third tier rate in order to retain new PR pros after the second year of membership. As a single mother, with school loans and no promise of a job after college, you can imagine I’m counting pennies. And, as a soon-to-be graduate of a Public Relations Bachelor’s degree, knowing that the dues would be lower for the next three years than a typical membership, it makes the decision to join the society a bit more enticing.