I’m not much of a snowboarder, but the journey of building a career in PR makes me think of a ski lift. I know that may sound a bit random but bear with me.
When you choose to pursue PR – college students, journalists making a career change, and all others starting in the field – you’re entering the ski lodge and suiting up for the future. As you look around, you see all kinds of tools and equipment to help you with what you’re about to do – some are optional, some are not. When you land your first job in PR, you’re stepping outside with the others in the field. It’s exciting and you want to get to the top of the mountain, but how?
PRSA is the ski lift.
Sure, you could take your board off and walk up the mountain, but that would take forever, not to mention it would be exhausting. Why not take a quicker route – one with more opportunity to watch and learn from others who are doing the same thing? With that in mind, here are the top 10 benefits of getting on that ski lift.
Building your network
I would be remiss not to mention this one. It’s one of my favorite benefits of being a member, and perhaps the most well-known. Being PR pros in general, we must build and maintain relationships – with the media, our communities, our colleagues, etc. PRSA provides an opportunity to build those relationships, and not just in the industry you’ve chosen to pursue. You can meet and learn from practitioners across all kinds of industries, anything from automotive companies to zoos.
Getting better at your trade
I’m confident in my abilities as a practitioner, but like everyone, I have areas of opportunity for improvement. One of mine is leading conference calls. As co-chair of the Programs committee for this year, I’ve decided to do monthly conference calls with our committee. The purpose of this to be sure we are on track to create meaningful, engaging programs. But as a side benefit, I am strengthening a skill I need to improve in my professional life.
The member directory
The membership directory available to PRSA members is a valuable tool that I believe is likely underutilized. You can search for PRSA members by name or company, an area of expertise, industry and more. This is valuable if you want to connect with others in your industry about best practices, or perhaps you are considering switching industries and you have a question before you proceed. There are lots of benefits to connecting with others in the field – many more than I can describe in this paragraph.
Online learning courses
In life, one of the most important things to remember is you must never stop learning. PRSA offers online and in-person workshops, webinars, conferences, courses and much more. If you are serious about growing in your profession, I can’t imagine any organization offering more quality resources than those you will find through PRSA.
PRSA Issues & Trends emails
As a PRSA member, you’ll receive a daily email called “Issues & trends.” This is so valuable from the perspective of staying up-to-date with the latest PR news. In addition, you’ll find news articles related to anything from mentoring to companies that have rebranded recently. “Issues & trends” is a fantastic way to stay in-the-know, without having to do much legwork other than scrolling and reading.
Improving your writing
The ability to write well is one of the most central skills a successful practitioner must possess. We must be masterful in not only what we say, but how we say it. As a member of PRSA, you’ll find ample ways to improve your writing. You can write blogs (hey, I’m doing that right now!), or join a committee and focus on anything from writing social media content, to developing promotional materials for upcoming programs. The opportunities are limitless.
Adding to your portfolio
If you are getting the most out of PRSA, you are staying involved. Perhaps joining a committee, attending events, or blogging. The more you do, the more opportunity you have to add to your professional portfolio. If you are leading a committee and successfully execute a big project, guess what? That’s a good thing to add to your portfolio! You are putting the work in – why not keep track of your success?
Getting outside your comfort zone
Similar to what I mentioned above about conference calls, PRSA will give you opportunities to get outside your comfort zone. It will give you a chance to break away from your day-to-day routine and grow professionally. Afraid of public speaking? Get involved with the chapter and seek out opportunities to do that. The more you venture outside your comfort zone, the more you learn and the bigger your comfort zone gets.
PRSA Strategies & Tactics
Strategies & Tactics is a go-to source for PRSA members who want to learn more about anything from a resume refresh to personalizing media pitches under a tight deadline. Updated content is added all the time, so make sure you check it out if you haven’t done so already.
Learning from those who have “been there, done that.”
I’ve been working in PR professionally now for just under five years. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is chatting with those who have been in the field far longer than I have. Some have been practicing for more than 20 or 30 years. Over that time, they’ve learned a lot to say the least. Going to them with questions is always a good idea, because they’ve likely experienced what you are going through.
Well, this ended up being a long blog, but I had fun writing it! I hope it encourages you to either join PRSA if you haven’t already done so, or make the most of your membership if you are already a member. The more involved you get, the more benefits you will find, so get out there and get involved. I’ll see you on the mountain!
Jeff Adkins is a public relations specialist with Henry Ford Health System, and a member of both PRSA National and PRSA Detroit.