Member voices drove effective programming in 2013

By: Michelle Clark, APR

As we begin a new programming year for the Greater Fort Worth PRSA chapter, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to our chapter members for their insight into effective programming over the course of 2013. Early last year, our chapter leadership surveyed members about expectations and interests for programming events including luncheons, professional development workshops, mixers and more. We promised to take your comments to heart, so as I pass the programming baton, I took the opportunity to reflect on our 2013 programs and how they lined up with your expectations.

To refresh our memories, to follow is a recap of our 2013 programming topics:

January: Front Lines of Communication: Red Cross volunteers participate in Hurricane Sandy communications efforts.
February: Forging Social Media Success: Professional development day focused on social media best practices, including measurement.
March: Why PR Pros Should Frequent Coffee Shops and Fitness Centers – getting PR a seat at the table.
April: Introducing LAMP – the Local APR Mentorship program developed exclusively for the GFWPRSA chapter.
May: Speed Mentoring – sharing case studies and war stories with our local peers.
June: Pushing Boundaries in a Digital World
July: No meeting
August: What PR Professionals Can Learn From Improv Comedy
September: Impeccable Ethics Still Matter in our Social Media and Digital World
October: De-Mystify the Art of Media Relations – professional development day focused on media relations/presentation training.
November: Generational Diversity: The Power of Perspectives.
December: Preparing the Next Generation of Public Relations Leaders

Overall, our programming efforts for 2013 addressed the top five topics our survey indicated were important to our members. Those five topics are outlined below; the percentage of respondents requesting the topic is indicated in parentheses, and the specific program addressing that topic immediately follows.

  • In-depth social media analysis; strategy, planning and measurement (77.19%) – Professional development in February and luncheon program in June
  • Case studies/war stories from chapter members; (63.16%) – Luncheon program in May
  • Building digital literacy within your organization; Developing your personal brand/career development/leadership training (47.37%) – Luncheon programs in June/August
  • Effective presentations – Focus not only on training PR pros, but also helping them train others who are not natural communicators (45.61%) – Professional development in October
  • Media training for media trainers (43.86%) – Professional development in October

Other survey topics addressed included the following:

  • The PR classroom of the future – what’s going on at our local universities, and what should our profession expect from recent graduates? (36.84%) – Luncheon program in December
  • Getting PR a seat at the executive table (28.07%) – Luncheon program in March
  • Differences in perspectives between junior- and senior-level PR practitioners (22.81%) – Luncheon program in November

In addition, many respondents indicated a desire to learn more about the APR program and how our chapter supports it, which was addressed in our April luncheon program.

Meeting attendance this year reflected our survey results – digital/social strategy and measurement, plus media relations, were the clear frontrunners for 2013, with our most highly attended events proving our two professional development programs and June’s luncheon program. Each event drew approximately 70 attendees. Additional popular topics included corporate culture/leadership and PR ethics, shown by at approximately 50 people attending luncheon programs in August and September.

We’ve made a great start toward responding to the needs of our membership – but we’re not finished. In addition to rating a pre-populated list of potential topics, our members provided programming ideas of their own that will continue to inform programming efforts into 2014.

Please know that our chapter leadership is committed to listening to members’ voices and responding with meaningful programming efforts that energize and enlighten us, along with making us better, every day, at what we do. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new 2014 programming survey in your inbox in coming weeks.

Thank you all so much for your support last year. Accepting responsibility for planning a year’s worth of effective programming was a challenge, for sure, yet I felt tremendously supported and encouraged – thank you all for your kind words, insight and suggestions. I look forward to being a blissful member of the audience in 2014 as I transition into serving our chapter in a different capacity. Kudos and many thanks to Sandra Brodnicki, APR, as she takes over the programming reins; I have a feeling we’ll see great things this year!

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