PRSA Assembly Highlights 2012 #prsaicon

PRSA Assembly Highlights 2012 
Submitted by Andra Bennett House, APR

National Board 
Even though the PRSA Southwest District does not have a district rep on the board (because no one ran), Blake Lewis, APR of Dallas was elected as National Treasurer. Blake will be an excellent “go-to” person for our district, if the need arises.

PRServing America PRServing America is a competition for the best pro-bono community service project by a chapter. PRSSA can participate as well. For 1st place, the prize is $2,500 and the prize amounts go down from there. Our Chapter could think about a pro bono project that would be a possible submission for this recognition and reward.

Advocacy 
PRSA submitted an op-ed to Roll Call re: Senate inquiry into federal agencies and contractors payments to PR firms.

PRSA advocated on behalf of PR pros being able to edit Wikipedia for clients. The owner of Wikipedia apparently was against this. The name of the Facebook group in favor of it is called Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wiki Engagement (CREWE).

Get more PRSA advocacy news.

Business Case of PR 
PRSA wrote Forbes op-ed for business schools including reputation management in MBA programs. (MBA Initiative)

Commission on Public Relations Education gave a lengthy presentation on the disparity of what colleges require for PR degrees.

Membership 
Currently PRSA National has 21,378 members. This is down from 2008 highs, but steadily climbing back up.

Free webinars this year – 63 have been offered, with 6,500 participants, exponentially up from any previous time.

Chapter resources – document sharing platform is being developed for online. No more chapters keeping stuff in shoeboxes!

Next year, ALL Members will be able to pay dues quarterly for a $15 processing fee. This will be optional for chapters to allow members to do this or not. It may allow more members to join, but could affect chapter cash flow.

Issues & Trends emails have been upgraded to be more user friendly and quickly read.

Priorities for 2013 are Ethics, Diversity, Advocacy and the Brand: One PRSA.

Unconference
Value of Districts – upshot of discussion was that National should look at possibly re-drawing the Districts into smaller territories, separating it from board representation, or subsidizing districts to help pay for regional conferences. There are members who do not belong to Chapters, yet chapters fund the Districts, so some members are benefiting without contributing.

Member Benefits – Districts could help aggregate benefit information for the Districts and provide it in a canned fashion for the chapters for newsletters, luncheon announcements, etc. Districts could help pen op-eds and localize the advocacy efforts of National for chapters to submit to their local publications.

Many topics discussed and videotaped – National to condense and make available soon.

Town Hall
Many delegates expressed concern that the Assembly did not vote on anything except the board slate. We listened to reports and gave feedback, but some did not feel the expense of the travel was worth being there in person, and did not feel the Assembly “accomplished” much.

I predict if there is no “beefy” agenda next year, and only voting on board nominees, many chapters will send proxies vs. delegates unless they are staying for the conference.

Thank you to Andra Bennett House, APR and Holly Ellman for representing the Greater Ft. Worth Chapter of PRSA as delegates to the Assembly during the 2012 PRSA International Conference.

Should PRSA Board Service be tied to Public Relations Accreditation?

This is cross-posted from a post by Ft. Worth PRSA member, Dan Keeney, APR.

The big debate in public relations circles these days has nothing to do with the outrageous efforts to sully the reputation of  Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange and its implications for the profession and journalism in general, BP’s ham handed response to the biggest manmade environmental disaster in U.S. history or even whether PR staffers caught posting phony reviews online should be tarred and feathered. Instead, the greatest minds of our profession are embroiled in a no-win argument about whether the Public Relations Society of America should require professional accreditation before being considered for service on the Society’s Board of Directors.

Established in 1964, the Accredited in Public Relations credential (APR) is awarded by the Universal Accreditation Board (disclosure: I earned my APR in 2000). It measures a public relations practitioner’s fundamental knowledge of communications theory and its application; establishes advanced capabilities in research, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation; and demonstrates a commitment to professional excellence and ethical conduct.

The APR credential has nothing to do with a person’s ability to govern effectively on the board of a national PR society. Zip. Zero. Nada.

Currently, PRSA requires that any prospective board member be accredited. When a ground-up rewrite of the PRSA bylaws was proposed last year, the organization’s General Assembly (the PRSA version of Congress) rejected the proposed language that would have stripped accreditation from board requirements. Despite voting a few years ago to drop the requirement that all Assembly Delegates be accredited, the Assembly balked at taking the next logical step.

The reason the PRSA general assembly voted to drop the requirement that Assembly Delegates be accredited (or “decouple” service from accreditation as we called it then) was that doing so eliminated so many highly qualified PRSA chapter leaders. How could a person serve as the president of a large chapter and not qualify to represent that chapter as a PRSA Assembly Delegate?

The rationale for keeping the accreditation requirement for Assembly Delegates then (as it is now for board service) is that it illustrates an organizational commitment to the credential. If PRSA’s leaders aren’t willing to pursue and achieve the credential, how can the organization suggest it has value for everyone else? What kind of PR practitioner would seek a leadership position but not consider it worthwhile to seek this profession’s credential?

That is a pretty good argument, but we aren’t in a world where everything makes sense. The fact is that only about 20 percent of PRSA members have achieved the APR credential. As a result, until the middle of the last decade, the organization basically had a class system of governance. Only 20 percent of the membership had the ability to serve on the PRSA General Assembly and/or Board of Directors. The other 80 percent, for which everything else was the same (including dues) could not participate in leadership.

Included in that 80 percent are highly capable PR practitioners, including accomplished leaders in corporate communications and agency management. Included in that 80 percent are people who have been leaders of the profession for 20 or more years and regularly shape thoughts about effective strategies, trends and ethics. And included in that 80 percent who, until the mid-00s, could not serve as an Assembly Delegate and STILL cannot serve as a PRSA Board Member are practitioners who have given countless hours of their time as leaders at the chapter and regional levels.

It didn’t make sense for the PRSA General Assembly and it does not make sense for the PRSA Board of Directors.

Last year when the general assembly passed an amendment to the proposed new bylaws that re-inserted the accreditation requirement for board service, I thought it was wrong. To make a point, I presented an amendment to re-insert the accreditation requirement for service as a General Assembly Delegate. I knew it would be defeated, but I wanted to make a point that their insistence on requiring an APR for board service made no sense given their vehement distaste for requiring APR for the assembly.

It was and is a blatant contradiction. If you believe accreditation should be a requirement for PRSA leadership, I respect that. But I can’t understand how you can require accreditation for one set of leaders but drop the same requirement for the other set of leaders.

I don’t think anyone really got the point I was trying to make. Turns out PR people are a very literal group and don’t really get irony.

Fast forward to today with forum posts and e-mails flying with semi-respectful insults pitting the leaders of our profession against each other. Each side is entrenched with very little likelihood that many will be influenced by the back and forth argument. But here’s the bottom line:

  • It makes no sense to require accreditation of the PRSA Board of Directors, especially since the PRSA General Assembly dropped the requirement for accreditation for itself and nearly all chapters have no APR requirements for leadership.
  • Given the fact that a majority of the leaders of PRSA chapters, regions and the PRSA General Assembly are not accredited, it is impossible to argue that accreditation has any impact on the ability to govern. The organization is already largely governed by unaccredited PR practitioners.
  • The inability of four out of five PRSA members to serve on the PRSA board regardless of their level of achievement, track record of service to the organization or interest in serving is patently unfair.
  • If the real goal is to illustrate the organization’s commitment to the credential, there must be better ways to accomplish that goal than coupling accreditation and board service.

That last point is where a meaningful and productive conversation really should start, but unfortunately year after year the PRSA General Assembly gets a glossed over report on the status of the organization’s accreditation promotion efforts. Let’s hope this year it is different.

This post was shared in the spirit of having a Point / Counterpoint discussion. What do you think? We are also open to posting a counter argument from membership.

Change is Good

President’s Column: Tom Burke, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA

Never mind that historic foot of snow on the ground, I still hit the neighborhood convenience store to pay my weekly state income tax by buying a lottery ticket. The clerk was all too perky. Must have been the weather. As he handed me the potential winning numbers, he said, “Get lucky. Change our lives.”
 
Not sure I want to change my life. Enhance it, maybe, but changing it at this stage of the game would be a bit drastic.
 
PR and communications professionals deal with change daily. Often we initiate it. Other times, someone else does, and we’re the ones to make it work. Well, the winds of change are blowing at Greater Fort Worth PRSA. The recession has caused us some minor headaches, one result being that the chapter will no longer pay the parking for luncheon attendees (although we did negotiate a garage rate of $2.50). But after this month that won’t be an issue, because the Petroleum Club is renovating, and we’re shifting to Colonial Country Club. Fore!
 
So come enjoy our last meeting at the Petroleum Club on Wednesday, March 10, and then recalibrate for Colonial, where the parking is free. The luncheon meetings will stay the second Wednesday of the month except in April for our annual Pro-Am Day. To be more convenient for TCU, UTA and Abilene Christian University students, that meeting will be Friday, April 9.
 
Whew! That’s enough change for even the most seasoned public relations/communications professional. By the way, the clerk didn’t give me any winning numbers. At least that’s one change I don’t have to worry about.

(Photo credit: TW Collins)

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Why earn your APR? #accredchat testimonial

Diane Rhodes Bergman, APR

Attaining the APR turned out to be one of the most rewarding endeavors I have undertaken. I have been practicing PR professionally for over 15 years and have always strived to stay informed and updated. As a result, I was astonished at how much I learned going through this process and the impact it has had on my daily practice of public relations.

It is true that much of the information you review in preparation for the APR covers topics you have “learned” before. The difference is that this process forces you to actively apply the details of this knowledge to your real life practice of the profession, which takes your learning to a whole new level.

Now that I’ve completed the process, I fully realize that the APR designation is much more than three letters after your name; it symbolizes a deeper level of commitment to the profession, the public and to your employers/clients.

Making the News: The Rise of the Crowd

On Tuesday, September 15, GFW PRSA members Tracy Syler-Jones and Richie Escovedo provided a session for the chapter’s Education Special Interest Group.

Making the News: The Rise of the Crowd

Tracy Syler-Jones (@TracySJ) – Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communication at TCU
Richie Escovedo (@vedo) – Media and Communication Development at Mansfield ISD

Today’s supercharged communication world presents numerous challenges for communicators. In the recent past, one could rely on traditional media to pass along news and information that could reach, and hopefully, influence the masses.

However, a shrinking number of reporters means communicators must learn how to effectively utilize, integrate and manage social networking and new media tools to remain visible and connected with key audiences. Learn more about the role the crowd plays in pushing your message along and how to tap into that energy.

Additional links promised to attendees:

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