I don’t pay much attention to anniversaries. Just ask my wife.
But when the August issue of Public Relations Tactics arrived in the mail, it reminded me that 2007 was my 25th year as a PRSA member. It also may be my last. You heard it here first.
I’ve been thinking about this break-up for 7 or 8 years now, but the triggering event was the announcement, on the cover of Tactics, that “acclaimed actress and humanitarian activist Mia Farrow” will be a keynote speaker at PRSA’s national conference this year.
I haven’t followed Mia’s career much since that creepy Woody-Soon Yee thing, but I had a wicked crush on her when she played the oh-so-hot Allison McKenzie in Peyton Place, back in the day. And could Frank Sinatra be wrong?
God bless Mia for her humanitarian work, whatever it is. But I’m not interested in hearing about it at my professional conference. Nor am I interested in having my registration fees pay for celebrity keynoters.
Before you say I’m overreacting, this isn’t really about Mia — she’s just given me the courage to finally propose the break-up. It’s time.
The love went out of my relationship with PRSA nearly a decade ago. Maybe it was burnout, after serving as chapter president in two cities and being part of the small core of worker bees for way too many years. Or maybe I lost interest when PRSA programs — locally and nationally — began to sound like what I teach in class, and often not as interesting or well-researched. (Yeah, I know how smug that sounds!)
Regardless of what drove us apart, the time has come for me to see other people in other organizations. We have four PRSA members on the Kent State faculty — all of us accredited. We also have an active and award-winning PRSSA chapter that’s well connected to local chapters in Akron and Cleveland.
Rest assured that Kent State will remain a fixture in PRSA circles, even if the College of Fellows calls for my medallion. I don’t recall where I stashed it, honest.
To be transparent, part of this comes down to money. I shell out over $400 a year in PRSA dues, well above the value I gain. And so long as those dues come out of my pocket and not my employer’s, the “value” question looms large. If someone (Yo, boss!) would pay my dues in multiple organizations, I’d gladly be a PR polygamist, since I have plenty of love to go around.
It’s been a good run, PRSA and me. When I had my own PR firm in Western New York, I estimated that 40% of all new business came via PRSA contacts and referrals. The networking was the reason I joined and the reason I stayed. Today, I’ve shifted the bulk of that networking to online channels. The local business lunches have become more burden than benefit.
Lest you think I’m becoming a recluse, I do plan to explore some new organizations to see what they have to offer. I’ll be looking at IABC, an excellent group that has no representation among Kent State faculty and staff — and it should.
PRSA was very, very good to me for a whole lotta years. So it may seem ungrateful that I’m considering this divorce — especially on the eve of our silver anniversary. But every once in a while it pays to shake things up — you know — to check out some new partners.
Just don’t tell my wife about this, OK?