The Importance of Professional Sections For PRSA Members

By Scott Tennant, APR, Vitamix

Whenever someone asks me about the worth of joining PRSA, I inevitably point to three things:

  • Staying current on best practices in the field, from strategy to execution to ethics
  • Earning (and maintaining) your APR accreditation
  • Interacting with peers through membership in a professional interest section

The first two are fairly standard parts of the PRSA value proposition, but the third sometimes gets short shrift. Of all the benefits I derive as a PRSA member, being part of the Corporate Communications section is the one that pays the most immediate dividends on a weekly – and even daily – basis.

Professional sections offer members access to specialized content and section-only networking and educational sessions. Some have section newsletters and/or online communities in which members discuss issues that pertain directly to their specific area of practice.

The Corporate Communications section comprises nearly 1,200 PR and communications practitioners who, as the section’s page on puts it, “are responsible for external communications and serve as the voice of their organization.” Over the years, I have had the chance to interact with many of them through the section’s online discussion forum.

When a section member posts a question or raises an issue of general interest in this forum, it goes to everyone in the group. In my case, that’s a digest email that arrives first thing each morning. Sometimes these posts are from members facing a specific communications challenge, asking how others have tackled it before. Others ask about topics ranging from members’ experiences with particular software packages or apps, to those seeking communications plan templates or messaging frameworks.

Whatever the query, members are more than willing to jump in and help each other. Sometimes there is disagreement, but it is handled in a spirit of cooperation and mutual edification. More than once I’ve gained valuable tips and insights from these discussions that were immediately applicable to my own practice.

Section membership also provides a unique channel for networking. When I attend the national conference each year, one of my favorite things is meeting in person those corporate communicators whom I had known previously only online. My communications network has been strengthened exponentially through section membership.

The cost of membership in a section is minimal when compared with the benefits. So the next time you renew with PRSA, give some thought to adding section membership to your overall package. I can almost guarantee that your section will quickly become one of the most beneficial parts of your PRSA experience.

Public Relations Society of America, Greater Cleveland Chapter