PRSA Chicago 2012: Staying on Course, But in a Different Direction

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

“Volunteer” is one of those cool words that can be used three ways: Noun, verb and adjective.   And, of course, we all know the definition of the word.

In practice, being a volunteer is a very positive thing to do.  It’s beneficial to offer uncompensated service for activities, causes and events that have personal meaning.   There’s definite “feel good” value to giving precious time, resources and energies.

As a volunteer (the noun form of the word), I’ve received as much as I’ve given.  As 2012 unfolds, I can reflect back on six years spent as a member of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), the body that grants and administers the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential, which I proudly hold.  It was a tremendous opportunity to learn from some outstanding public relations professionals and build friendships — all while volunteering (the verb form of the word).

The Accreditation in Public Relations credential is the hallmark of individual excellence.

The past few years, I chaired or co-chaired the UAB Marketing Communications work group.  I led efforts to build awareness for the Accreditation program, promote acceptance of the credential in public relations and engage practitioners to pursue and earn the APR.  Our group developed a sound plan with realistic goals and objectives.  I was proud of what we accomplished.

When my second three-year term on the UAB ended, I needed to turn my volunteer (the adjective form of the word) efforts elsewhere. This year, I’ll stay close to home and contribute what I can to PRSA Chicago.  My role will be to serve on the Accreditation Committee; our goal will be the build the number of Accredited members in what is the fourth largest chapter within the Public Relations Society of America.

Yesterday, the chapter held a very lively and encouraging kick off indoctrination meeting. There were more than 20 colleagues — some I knew and have worked with, others new to me — in attendance.  The agenda addressed the great strides made in terms of revenue, events and membership growth and retention in 2011, future activities from the Young Professionals Network and the reinstatement of an Advocacy Committee.  We talked about plans for a PRSA Midwest Regional conference in July, and the annual Skyline Awards slated for early June.

There was spirited debate over mainstay kind of program and activities, and equally spirited debate about new stuff. That energized me.

It’s imperative that PRSA Chicago — or just about any volunteer body or for-profit company for that matter — stay the course on programs and initiatives that have worked before, but be ready to wipe the slate clean and be open to change and a different direction.

Collectively, the volunteer public relations professionals who are charged with guiding PRSA Chicago through 2012 have an open blueprint to craft another successful 12 months.  Based on the enthusiasm displayed at the kick off meeting and willingness to reinvent itself, I think the Chapter is poised to thrive in the year ahead.

Are you a member of a PRSA Chapter or another communications organization?  What’s your forecast for 2012?

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