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PRSA Year in Review: Storms, Sacrifice and Strategy


December 3, 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, I’m pleased to report that despite facing more than our share of challenges in the past 12 months, PRSA had a very productive year on behalf of our members.

In October, I wrote about how those of us at headquarters have realized firsthand the importance of crisis planning:  Superstorm Sandy shuttered our offices about a year ago; we unexpectedly lost Arthur Yann, APR, our vice president of public relations, in June; and then in late July a pipe burst, flooding our offices — events that affected us all in many ways, including our ability to serve you.

Yet against this backdrop we undertook — and completed — a variety of initiatives, including:

  • Free military membership: As of last October, PRSA offers free membership to qualified veterans who have served our country in a public affairs role, to help them transition to civilian life.
     
  • Virtual job fair: PRSA held its first-ever virtual job fair in April, attracting more than 500 applicants to interview virtually with top-tier employers.
     
  • Member Emeritus: In June, PRSA honored the loyalty of members who have been with PRSA for at least 50 years by establishing the “Member Emeritus” program, which waives their membership fees  — a group that now includes more than 40 members.
     
  • Virtual Tactics and Strategist: In September, we launched alternate virtual versions of our flagship publications, so members can choose how they want to receive this important resource — including in print via mail, as we’ve always offered.
     
  • Code of Ethics app: Early this year we launched a Code of Ethics app so you can easily access the important information and guidance you need, wherever you are.
     
  • M.B.A. Initiative: Building on last year’s launch of the M.B.A. Initiative, we’ve doubled the number of participating schools (now 10 in total), helping ensure that tomorrow’s business leaders learn about the value of public relations during their formative years.
     
  • Strategic planning: We launched and completed our 2014-16 Strategic Plan, using classic SWOT [Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats] analysis to chart our future course. (Learn more and watch the video here.)
     
  • APR: We retained an independent outside consultant to conduct an impartial assessment of our APR program. The consultant’s report is on our website and available here for comment by anyone who is interested. We will use the plan as a basis to consider improvements to the program as we review feedback from the UAB, Leadership Assembly, APR Chairs and members across the country.
     
  • University directory: This year, we launched the beta version of the first-ever online directory specifically for higher education programs in communications.
     
  • Internship center: For our PRSSA students, we redesigned our online internship center to better integrate it into our other resources.
     
  • Quarterly billing: Early this year, we established a comprehensive program to allow members to pay their dues on a quarterly basis, making it easier to manage the expense of membership.
     
  • Disaster recovery: Building on our experiences from Superstorm Sandy, we’ve begun infrastructure improvements to better withstand catastrophic events.
     
  • Marketing: We’ve fine-tuned our approach, working closely with Chapters nationwide to find new members through locally-targeted campaigns. The results have been impressive.

There’s actually still more that we did this year, but we’ll discuss those programs in the coming months.

Our achievements in 2013 remind me that “many hands make for light work.”  Everything we accomplish at PRSA is a collective effort. Our members contribute great ideas, our leaders guide us and our many volunteers make things happen.

For more than 60 years, this is what PRSA is truly about: a community of dedicated professionals, working selflessly to help each other be the best they can be.

 

William (Bill) M. Murray, CAE, is the chief executive officer of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
Email: william.murray at prsa.org



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