Is PRSA building walls?

prsa_logoJack O’Dwyer has few bones to pick with PRSA this week — as he always does. But because Jack is so at odds with the Society, his ideas seldom get serious consideration. Maybe I can help.

Bone No. 1: It started last year with a simple request from the editor O’Dwyers Public Relations News. Jack wants PRSA to provide a PDF version of the society’s membership directory so members (and journalists) can share the resource.

Despite what I said here in Round 11, Jack has a great point. He says the directory should serve more than just PRSA members. It should serve the profession — and especially young professionals launching their PR careers.

PRSA stopped publishing the dead-tree version in 2006, citing high costs.  The new online directory is a little 1995ish in look and design, but it is searchable and easy to update.

Jack will tell you that the old directory was a big help to journalists covering the business, so it makes sense to put one in every journalist’s hands. What I will tell you is that the directory helped PR professionals and students as well.

Prior to 2006, I often loaned my dead-tree directory to students seeking internships and jobs around the country. And pre-1992, before I took up teaching, I loaned it to coworkers seeking contacts with PR pros in other cities. I’m sure most PRSA members did the same.

With the directory now under digital lock and key, students and colleagues must visit my office if they want to see the PRSA list. Then I must log them onto my account to give them a peek. I hope that’s not a violation of the “terms of service”! While I appreciate PRSA’s desire to safeguard the list, I’m a little shocked the Society doesn’t trust me, a 27-year member, with a PDF copy of the membership roster.

Does this make sense to you?

Bone No. 2 is also a list-related issue — sort of. PRSA recently developed some new guidelines for researchers seeking access to the Society’s membership for survey purposes. O’Dwyer calls the proposal “draconian.” I call it “in need of adjustment.”

The proposed guidelines call for members of PRSA’s Academic Research Task Force to review all research proposals and decide whether the work is worthy of access to the treasured membership list. That’s fair. Otherwise PRSA members might be bombarded with survey requests from every marketer on the planet.

But here’s where I agree with Jack: The proposed guidelines insist that completed research projects must be submitted to PRSA’s online academic publication, and that PR Journal retains “first right of refusal” on every project that uses the membership list. In other words, you can’t shop your work to other journals until PRJ says it’s not interested.

That’s a bad idea. Some journals are simply a better fit for certain types of research. And some are more prestigious than the fledgling PRJ, which has yet to establish a reputation. I’m surprised that a committee of folks dedicated to academic freedom would propose such a restriction, and I’m hoping they’ll fix it when they next meet.

The research guidelines approved by PRSA’s Board of Directors appear on pages 5-6 of this PDF: prsaminutes

PRSA and the value proposition

I worry that PRSA is building walls when the communication world is tearing them down. And I worry that my professional home of the last 27 years is losing its value.

The society once was my primary source of information about the biz. I looked forward to chapter meetings and national conferences as a place to learn. I read PRSA publications cover to cover. Today I attend meetings only for networking.

Some evidence that PRSA has fallen behind:

The 1990s website. PRSA long-promised website renovation has yet to happen. The look, the content and the navigation of prsa.org are vintage Web 1.0. As the largest organization of communication professionals in the world, PRSA’s website should be on the leading edge with its Web presence.

Social networking. The world’s largest organization of communication professionals has never established an interactive online network, and it’s probably too late to do so now. Yes, PRSA has a couple of blogs — both established far too late to impact the conversation. I’m wondering: Where do PRSA members go for talk about the business issues and to share ideas?

Information resources. PRSA still produces printed versions of PR Tactics and Strategist. Both publications have value, but seldom break new ground. Read the leading bloggers and you’ll learn a lot more a lot more quickly. PRSA’s “Daily Issues and Trends” email alerts sometimes produce a useful nugget. But you’ll learn a more at PR Daily Newsfeed, Marketing Profs, or Online Media Daily — all available free.

I’m grateful for the support we at Kent State receive from PRSA members in Northeast Ohio. Also, the Public Relations Student Society of America helps our students connect to the profession. But what does the national organization contribute to the mix?

I’d survey the membership on that question, but I don’t have a copy of the list. Besides, I doubt the Research Task Force will approve my proposal. :-)

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22 Responses to Is PRSA building walls?

  1. Breeze says:

    Where do PRSA members go for talk about the business issues and to share ideas?

    They go to ToughSledding and the myriad sites like it. Just because PRSA is not on the ball doesn’t mean its members follow suit. After all, they were communications pros before they ever became society members.

  2. Nick Lucido says:

    Hi Bill, thanks for sharing your insights. As a member of the PRSSA National Committee, I’d like to jump in on your last question asking what we contribute as a national organization. Chapters are so key to enhancing the membership value of PRSSA students (especially when it comes to contacting PRSA members) as they offer professional development opportunities and events. What happens on the Chapter level is expanded on the national level through National Conference, National Assembly, Regional Activities, our JobCenter, scholarships… the list goes on. We’re a community of around 10,000 students who share similar interests and goals. Connecting those members with each other around the country is something we strive to do through our programming and opportunities.

    My personal favorite part of PRSSA as a national organization is the opportunity for members to step up and be leaders. It’s great to see members step up and lead their Chapters, as well as lead the entire organization on the national stage.

    If you have any suggestions on how we, as a national organization, can improve, I welcome it. Our main focus is advancing the profession and anything we can do to accomplish that is definitely something I’d appreciate.

  3. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Nick. As I said in the post, I’m a fan of PRSSA, and Kent State has been part of it since the beginning (1968). PRSSA does offer some leadership opps, just like PRSA does, but 90% of the benefit comes at the chapter level, just as it does with PRSA. No one will argue that.

    So you know, I’ve been president of two chapters and 4 times an Assembly delegate.

    As for the national organization, well, I’ve been hearing about “advancing the profession” and “PR for PR” since I joined in 1983. But I’ve not seen a lot of results. Most folks come to professional organizations for a) networking and b) professional development and information. We can do networking without an expensive national structure. As for professional development and information, well, I addressed my concerns in the post. PRSA has fallen behind.

    I do appreciate your coming by, and mean no disrespect. But “advancing the profession” is one of those warm fuzzy that never comes with a lot of specifics.

    Was hoping you’d address the concern about the directory. Any chance someone from the National Committee would be willing to do that?

  4. Arthur Yann says:

    Bill,

    Please add ducks to your list of game; a few canards here waiting to be shot.

    Canard No. 1: A PDF of PRSA’s Member Directory

    Search LinkedIn for the term PRSA, and the names of 9,800 individuals are returned. There’s also a PRSA National LinkedIn group and various District, Chapter and Section groups. Looking for a PRSA member in Los Angeles with whom to network? Check out the LA Chapter group and its 400+ members. Hoping to break into technology public relations? There are 407 members in the PRSA Technology group. Same for Facebook.

    You can also go to the Chapter Web sites; while not all Chapter members are listed, there usually are quite a few folks in leadership positions who are. And of course, PRSA and PRSSA members all have access to our online Member Directory.

    A PDF version of PRSA’s membership directory would be useful for one thing, however: abuse by product marketers, who spam our Members. This is why we don’t provide it. Does Kent State provides a PDF of its alumni directory to anyone who wants it?

    Canard No. 2: Social networking

    At last count, PRSA had somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 branded social media sites, where members can discuss business issues and share ideas in micro communities suited to their particular business interests. In addition to those listed above and the blogs you note, we also have several active Twitterers, Flickr and Ning accounts and various discussion groups on our Web site. Also, our new Web site (due in the fall) will also contain enhanced networking features. We’re also providing more – and better – industry education in this area. What are we missing?

    Canard No. 3: Information resources

    It’s misguided to expect PRSA, a member service organization, to deliver industry news on par with a media organization. Different models; different cost structures; different resources; different focus. So we don’t have a cute photo caption contest … we do deliver tactical and strategic insights that other publications lack. If PRSA is no longer your primary source of information about the business, I suspect it’s mainly due to the influx of information providers and bloggers who have entered the public relations space.

    Canard No. 4: The value of National

    Maybe we should start with our membership directory, which apparently is coveted the world over. That aside, PRSA National offers free professional development opportunities, an ethics program, an insurance program and other product and service discounts for members, the PRSSA student society, an international and several industry-specific conferences, the Silver Anvil and individual award programs, a job bank, a mentoring program, an electronic library of case studies and articles, an accreditation program that makes individuals better practitioners and back-end training and support for our 110 Chapters and Chapter Leaders.

    In closing, you are correct in that our Research Task Force would decline your research proposal. But, only because we’ve already done that research. I’ll send you the slides.

    Arthur Yann is vice president of public relations for PRSA.

  5. Great to see both sides of the story represented here. The open and honest communication makes me proud to be part of the profession.

  6. Dino Baskovic says:

    I do believe the overwhelming majority of last year’s conference curricula in Detroit revolved around social media. “Blog this, Tweet that.” I see that San Diego promises no shortage of social media fodder, as well. So I dunno. Like many chapters, if it’s just a couple of well-intentioned interns at the national office manning an old copy of FrontPage with zero budget, then OF COURSE output suffers. As they say about the cobbler’s children…

    Otherwise, O’Dwyer’s tirades bore me anymore, and PRSA has long been overdue for a shake-up. And articles like what ran in last Sunday’s NYT are still running, after all these years of so-called advocacy? Spare me already.

  7. april says:

    Can I just state that I am a PRSA member of 8 months and until I read this post, I had absolutely no idea there was a national directory?

    PRSA could possibly increase its usefullness to members if it just promotes the tools it already has and explains how to access them or make them more accessible. I find PRSA’s Web site to be very difficult to navigate. For example, I knew there was a message board for the Young professionals network, but it took me an hour to find it on the Web site and another half hour to access it (I had to keep logging in)

  8. Bill Sledzik says:

    Glad we attracted some discussion. And thanks for stopping by and defending the fort for PRSA, Arthur. We disagree on things, but that’s as it should be. Someone has to play watchdog, and I’m comfortable in the role.

    And Dino, I agree that Jack’s tirades get a bit unreasonable at times. As a result, when he has a good idea, folks tend to tune him out. And the fact that PRSA has a lot of social media content in the 2008 conference isn’t lost on me. I’m just sayin’ that it comes 9 years after Cluetrain — a tad late given the society’s position as industry leader.

    Some additional counterpoints:

    The PRSA directory was made available in paper form for 50 or so years. Then it went away. I don’t miss the paper directory personally, but my students do — as do colleagues who would, at times, benefit from my PRSA membership, just as I benefit from their memberships in SPJ, AEJMC and others. It’s nice to extend those professional courtesies of swapping resources, and a PDF version would be extremely useful to me — as a longtime member — as a means of sharing with advisees and trusted associates. You can trust me with it. Really.

    I will concede a PDF is far easier to circulate than a paper directory and might be of interest to some marketers out there. If so, then maybe we have to go back to paper. But the present system doesn’t solve my problem, so it represents one fewer service PRSA provides.

    Networks. I’m well aware of the discussion groups on LinkedIn that have ties to PRSA. Quite a few other PR discussions have no ties to PRSA. These sort of bulletin-board discussion are fine for specific topic discussions, but they don’t have the richness of the social net that you find at our competing organization, IABC, or even at the Robert French’s student site, PROpenMic. But as I said, it’s a little late for that.

    What exactly the national organization brings to all of these disparate networks bearing the PRSA name isn’t real clear to me. Nor does the national organization seem to do much to aggregate the information.

    Regarding Canard #3: I don’t expect PRSA to deliver industry news as the media would. I do expect it to deliver industry insights. When I compare what I find on the free sites, it’s simply superior. Ragan’s Daily Newsfeed, for example, offers valuable links that I pass on to others all the time. Can’t remember when I last did that with a PRSA link — or if I’m even allowed to do that :-)

    So if PRSA can’t be an information hub (and I understand the challenges in trying to do that), then I must chock up one more bit of value that members no longer derive from their dues.

    So that’s my rejoinder, Arthur. I want to thank you for making PRSA’s case — point by point — and doing it well. It’s up to readers to decide if the benefit you set forth are of value. Which was sorta the point of the post.

    And Dino, as for the NYT story last Sunday, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. During my 35 years in the business, I’ve never seen a mainstream reporter embrace the vision of PR that true professionals hold — the whole relationship thing. And I doubt they ever will. Reporters tend to see us in our media-relations advocacy role, and too often those who play that role aren’t the straightest shooters. (Maybe they’re jealous because we have jobs — for now!)

  9. Bill,
    Thanks for engaging in this conversation. I agree with you that National is late in embracing Web 2.0, which should be reflected in its own Web site. Further, it is too bad they didn’t form a robust social community around said site. For a number of reasons, I’m looking forward (impatiently) to the launch of the new site, again, which is long overdue.

    That said, I disagree with you on making an electronic version of the membership directory available. Too many spammers out there, and I just don’t want to be on every marketing list as a result of my membership. In this regard, I’m thankful that National is protective of my information.

    While I agree that National can do more for the profession, specifically by promoting lay understanding of accreditation and more fully embracing forward-thinking ideas (which they’ve tended not to do in my opinion), I’m grateful for the standards they’ve developed in ethics and the online resources.

    In short, I believe my membership does provide value to me, and while the organization is not perfect, I’m not ready to give up that structure to rely solely on chapter affiliation.

  10. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks, Linda. I’m not ready to give up, either, or I wouldn’t have bothered writing the post. But since I’ve invested 27 years in PRSA, I figure I’ve earned the right to grouse.

    The PDF thing is sad. Because we know someone will likely get the list and use if for spam, none of us can have it. And that’s a killer when you’re trying to advise students, who need access to PRSA’s resources.

    At one point there was discussion about making the list available to all active PRSSA members. I’m wondering what happened on that issue. Arthur, can you fill us in? If PRSSA students had access to the list, my problem would disappear, and I’d probably shut up. Of course, it wouldn’t do a helluva lot for programs that don’t have PRSSA chapters — and a lot of great practitioners come from those schools.

    I’m not sure your average PR person cares all that much about advancing student into the field. But the true professionals do, and we must find a way to make that happen. The fact that you took time to comment tell me you’re one of those committed professionals. Thanks.

  11. Bill Sledzik says:

    I should add two more things — and I hope no one sees it as patronizing.

    1) While I believe PRSA has fallen short in many areas, it did finally hire an excellent PR professional in Arthur Yann. Art and I disagree on a lot — beginning with Scotch vs. Bourbon. But every time I raise a concern, he answers it straight out and quickly. We’ve exchanged emails and talked on the phone. But I also know he’s an advocate for the society and its board of directors. That’s his job, and he does it well.

    2) That comment from the other Sledzik above came from my son Christopher, a 2nd-year master’s student in PR at Kent State. He’s a great believer is dialogue, though I don’t recall him being this reasonable when he was kid! I’m a little concerned he’ll come back and agree with Arthur in this debate, so to head off that concern, I must tell him that Art’s a Steeler fan, just like his old man!

  12. Tiffany Gallicano says:

    To expand upon my tweet this morning, I’m glad to see PRSA (through Arthur) enter the conversation. I have read a handful of blog posts criticizing PRSA over the years that have gone by without a response from PRSA. It seemed contradictory to me to see PRSA preach conversation without fully practicing it by responding to every online criticism of it. I’m glad to see a conversation and to understand PRSA’s perspective on this particular discussion.

    I agree that PRSA has been behind the curve on adopting social media and teaching practitioners about social media through its publications. I find blogs to be a much faster, in-depth source of information. I think that Tactics and the Strategist are ideal for people who are not regularly monitoring the blogosphere. I don’t see myself as the audience anymore for Tactics and the Strategist — this is not a complaint; it’s just an observation.

    Information filters through social media and eventually reaches hard copy trade publications, which serve a role in bringing people up to speed who are not making as much of an effort to be on top of the latest information.

    That said, I am thrilled with PRSA’s PR Journal — that is definitely a publication that interests me! I am thankful to have a new academic venue that is dedicated to publishing public relations research for both an academic and a practitioner audience that is available to anyone online.

    I am impressed with the caliber of scholarship and am glad that the journal is open access. I’ve referred many people to the articles published there, especially the work-life balance article by Linda Aldoory, Hua Jiang, Elizabeth L. Toth, and Bey-Ling Sha.

    I looked at the new regulations for using PRSA’s membership list (thanks for attaching the minutes and referencing the page numbers). I think that submitting to a journal within one year’s time is too stringent. I’d prefer to see two years or at least a year plus an extra summer for folks who focus on research during the summer.

    I understand PRSA’s preference for first right of refusal, and I want the PR Journal to continue to publish excellent scholarship. However, if a study using the membership list results in multiple publications, it would be appreciated to not have to send all of those publications to the PR Journal first.

    In terms of the value of membership (my membership renewal notice just arrived), I think that the fee ($225 for national without the chapter fee) is reasonable for organizations to pay but hefty for people to pay themselves without support from their employers. I have the same opinion of the PRSA conference — it’s a great opportunity for people who are sponsored by their employers, but it’s likely out of reach for many people who would need to pay for it entirely by themselves.

    I see evidence of PRSA’s efforts to do “PR for PR” and would like to see much more. Having a recurring client of the public relations industry for the Bateman competition at least every four years could result in progress.

    Thanks for the opportunity to contribute my thoughts.

  13. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for coming by, Tiffany. All great points, and it is nice to have a PRSA official in the conversation. That didn’t happen in past years. Of course, Arthur can’t change the dues structure, nor can he do anything about those of us who pay out of our own pockets vs. expense accounts. The value questions are tougher for us, aren’t they?

    PR Journal was a great move by the academics in PRSA, and the open access was a pleasant surprise. It will advance PR education, but I do find the rules adopted in April to be too restrictive. Cooler heads should prevail, as there are some smart folks on that committee. Let’s hope they see fit to make revisions.

    The national conference went out of my reach long ago, and word has it the educator’s fee will rise further. I’ll miss the networking, but I’ll get over it. Too bad. Was looking forward to a little of that San Diego sunshine.

  14. Andra Bennett, APR says:

    Rambling response: I like Tactics and Strategist! I delete a lot of e-mails but I have those publications on my coffee table and read them on the weekends when I can really relax with them. Old fashioned? Maybe, but they work for me.

    I am director of comm for a large city chamber of commerce. We are not printing a directory this year, but we aren’t doing a PDF, either. Something to think about, perhaps. That being said, I do miss having a PRSA chapter directory at my fingertips. But as an officer, I have access to the live report. I’d like to publish it to the website, sans e-mails.

    Thanks for the observations!

  15. Arthur Yann says:

    I feel like we should be having this discussion over a backyard barbeque at Bill’s! I’ll bring the … BOURBON.

    Let me start by saying that PRSA National is thankful for the opportunity to participate in these discussions, and grateful for the feedback and sharing of ideas. We acknowledge that there are issues we need to address, and while we’ll never achieve consensus among all 22,000 members, Bill Murray is an exceptional leader, and we’re making positive strides in a number of areas.

    There’s lot to respond to here; if I’ve left anything out, it’s unintentional:

    Breeze: Anonymous post and glittering generalities. Nothing really that warrants a response.

    Dino: It’s not quite a couple of interns working Frontpage with zero budget. But, we are a non-profit, and we’ve had to fund the Web site redesign over two years. We’re excited about where it’s headed; look for the unveil in the fall.

    April: You have to log-in to Membernet with your username and password (on your membership letter) to access the membership directory, which is here: http://auth.iweb.prsa.org/xmembernet/main/directory.cfm. If you don’t have your username and password, contact our helpdesk by emailing helpdesk@prsa.org, or by calling 212-460-1484.

    Linda: Our new Web site will have more of a social community associated with it; we’re not trying to rebuild Facebook, but it will have some Facebook-like features, including the ability to build contact lists and search for other members by interests, practice areas and PRSA affiliations (Chapter, APR, etc.) Also, would love any additional thoughts you’d be kind enough to share on forward-thinking ideas we’ve missed out on. Perhaps it’s not too late.

    Tiffany: Thanks so much for your brilliant comments. So insightful re: PR Journal vs. Strategist and Tactics, and a great reminder of the value of audience segmentation. I’ll also ask Don Wright to drop by and read your (and other’s) concerns over the PR Journal research policy. I see both sides.

    Andra: John Elsasser’s head is big enough, but I’ll be sure to pass along your praise for S&T. Thank you.

    Bill: Thanks for the kind comments; we do disagree on certain things, but the dialogue is respectful and the admiration mutual. Now, full disclosure: Noticing Chris’ comments, I of course emailed him directly (hey, every good PR person knows the value of reaching key influencers). He did (unknowingly) give me a few helpful nuggets, but I promised not to use them against you.

    Any other comments are most certainly welcome here, or sent directly to me at arthur.yann@prsa.org.

    Cheers!

    AY

    • Bill Sledzik says:

      Sorry this one was a tad late in coming. I no longer moderate comments, except for those containing 2 or more links. This one did, and I’m just not accustomed to looking for them.

      As for those “nuggets” Chris gave you about me, he did share one — the fact that I offered to pay his PRSSA membership in the fall. Why? I’m a great believer in PRSSA as a career launching point for students, but – as you can imagine — I also have some bones to pick with PRSA on how it handles the student organization. We’ll save those for another time.

      Anyway, I urge all students to join PRSSA, even if it’s just to get the substantial discount in dues when they join the big guys after graduation. It also provide a solid F2F network on campus and the peer advising the comes with that.

      Again, Arthur. Sorry for that delay on this comment approval. But I’m liking the fact that you and others in PRSA are listening to the buzz out there and responding. That simply didn’t happen before you got here. One of your folks even re-tweeted a message about this post. But I suspect Eileen’s job is safe, as she told me she’s a scotch drinker!

  16. Arthur Yann says:

    Bill: One additional thing … PRSSA students DO have access to the membership directory. They just need their membership ID number, which is used to set up a user name and password, same as PRSA members. Glad that makes one of your problems disappear.

    • Bill Sledzik says:

      Thanks for that clarification, Arthur. Knew I could count on you to get us an answer to that one. Students having access to the list does solve our problem at Kent State, though I’m not sure the students knew about the benefit. I did not.

      Of course, it doesn’t solve the problem for faculty members who are PRSA members but don’t have PRSSA chapters, but I guess I’ll leave that battle to them.

      Now, let’s work on that social network and the new website.

  17. Chuck Hemann says:

    Bill –

    Always causing trouble! Thanks to you and Arthur for engaging in an interesting (if not somewhat snarky – at times) debate about the merits/practices of PRSA.

    Consider this the unbiased view as I’m not a member of PRSA, though I am a member of several organizations (including a board member of the local chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute). I can tell you that, in almost all of the cases, professional organizations have fallen flat on the networking front. Perhaps it’s because social networking sites have made it easier, or the advent of powerful search engines like Google, but I don’t need PRSA (or any other org for that matter) to connect me with people. Sure, I’ve been in the biz for 5 years so I’ve made some contacts, but students can use social networks and online search engines in the same way I (and many others have).

    Where I will agree with you is on a central social network for all members to interact. That seems like such an easy fix, even now.

  18. Mr. Sledzik and Breeze have terrific points. I learned about this post from Jack O’Dwyer’s Twitter. Yet recently I posted a question on LinkedIn about Twitter and was amazed at all the lamoes (claiming to be PR experts) dismissing it as a fad or no one’s using it.

    Twenty years ago I would go to a PRSA meeting and hear outstanding minds like Chester Burger (PRMuseum.com). I have not been a PRSA member since the early ‘90s, but I’d like to go to meetings for education. Unfortunately, local PRSA chapters seem to have topics on how to pitch the media. In my day, you needed 10 years of media experience before going into public relations. Since – in the day I did pitch the media – I had a 97% placement rate, I don’t see the relevancy in my world for this topic. PRSA locally seems to base its topics on those recently out of college and new to the field. Maybe that’s what’s killing the field.

    Yesterday I saw another local professional organization with a speaker I would love to hear on how to deal with new media like Technorati, Google apps and relevant information to me. My office is a wireless computer and phone. I am a small business person eking out a meager living. That organization wanted $65 for a luncheon meeting. I’m sorry, in my book luncheon meeting should be $15, most $25. They priced it WAY over my head.

    So until organizations face the real world of presenting relevant information at affordable prices, I’ll stick to getting my knowledge via the Internet. I would love the face-to-face networking aspect, but I must weigh value. That’s the reason I haven’t been a PRSA member for nearly 20 years.

    Richard Kelleher, M.B.A.
    Marketing Sociologist
    MediaRelationsExpert.com

  19. Bill Sledzik says:

    Turns out PRSA has significant value — at least in County Meath: http://tr.im/ruH2

    Wonder what the “APR” on those accounts is? Maybe I’ll ask the next “Fellow” I see!

  20. Samra Jones Bufkins, MJ, APR says:

    Jumped into the fray on this late, after reading Cherenson’s latest blog and a bunch of links related to that brought me here. Kind of a rambling response:

    Hey, Arthur, I knew there was a reason I liked you. Maker’s Mark, Knob Hill or Woodford Reserve? Straight up or on the rocks?

    Seriously, as a 20+ year member with both a master’s degree in PR and my APR, I’d prefer my membership status not be available to every marketer out there. I have enough trouble managing the Twitter spam and Facebook stalker requests I get every day. As one poster stated, there are plenty of ways for people to search out PRSA members and APRs–if we’re on Linkedin, Plaxo, and any of the myriad social networking sites, we’re findable. But you can sign up for all the social networks out there you want, then you have to proactively work them–they don’t come to you. (And my dear April, the membership directory is right under the Membership drop-down menu on the website–shouldn’t take an hour to find.)

    Richard–I don’t know where you’re located, but here in Dallas/Fort Worth our PRSA luncheons are, first of all, reasonably priced and second, cover way more than pitching the media. Each chapter is different in their focus–we’re doing a lot of social media strategies and industry focus programs here. We have interest group networking sessions, and lots of topical programs of interest to a diverse group of professionals. You should come visit some time.

    I will say I don’t think PRSA is doing a good enough job of promoting the value of PRSA and APR outside the industry. Until agencies demand Accreditation of their hires, or their employees after a period of time, until corporations insist on hiring APRs for their communications departments, or agencies with APRs on staff, we’ll be having the argument about the value of PRSA and APR.

    As PR professionals, we all have our quick elevator speech about our client or product or cause, we should have one about the value of APR, and of PRSA membership. When I worked in an engineering-heavy organization, the PEs had no idea what I do, but they recognized the APR as a credential showing that I had met certain standards, and they respected it, just like they respect the PE. So when we members of PRSA complain that “PRSA isn’t doing…..” we criticize ourselves. It’s a membership organization, folks–WE are PRSA and we shouldn’t wait around for the board to authorize staff to do something we could be doing on our own as members and professionals.

    Sorry, got off track there–I’m the Professional Development Chair for the Dallas chapter, and I’m passionate about continuing education and Accreditation.

    As for the slow move to social media and a decent PRSA website, I know from experience as both a non-profit staff member and board member, these things take much more time to accomplish at a non-profit than in Corporate America. And if it makes you-all feel any better about the Website re-do, I have a friend in the PR department at a major, multi-national hi-tech firm with HQ in Dallas that just last week got Windows XP loaded onto her office computer.

    One other thing, and Linda and I have discussed this–the online directory would be far more useful if those of us who belong to multiple local chapters (I belong to Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston) would be able to list that in our directory entries, and show up as a member of each chapter we belong to when someone searches for members of that chapter. It would make networking so much easier for those of us on the go.

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