As a public relations professional, you know how important making connections with contacts and clients is to your success. Just as vital is dedicating yourself to networking with peers and taking advantage of various opportunities for learning and professional development. The public relations industry is lucky to have a number of fantastic professional organizations that unite practitioners into one community making it easy to meet others in the field and share knowledge. They also offer great resources and benefits to members. We’ve compiled some need-to-know information about each of the leading PR associations – PRSA, IABC, and CPRS – to help you determine which is right for you!
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) was chartered in 1947 and is now the world’s largest organization of PR professionals. They have over 21,000 members and pride themselves on setting standards of excellence for practitioners.
Professional Training Programs: Each year, PRSA offers members conferences and educational events including seminars and webinars that address industry issues and trends. A great feature of these events is the focus on specific areas of PR like measurement and executive communication, and specific verticals like travel and tourism and education. Their hallmark event is their International conference which attracts many members and industry suppliers.
Leadership: PRSA recognizes practitioners who have made great contributions to the field through various sought after PRSA Awards. They also offer many volunteer opportunities that include chapter, section and district leadership, and positions on committees from the chapter level to the National Board of Directors.
Resources: PRSA promotes conversation and knowledge sharing through online and print resources.
- ComPRehension – the organization’s blog
- Public Relations Journal – a quarterly focused on increasing member knowledge
- PR Tactics – a monthly newspaper with the latest news, trends and how-to information
- PR Strategist – a quarterly that highlights new ideas in strategy and concepts
Other resources include the PRSA Job Center and a collection of case studies, white papers and news releases.
Member Benefits: Not only are members part of a highly regarded community of professionals, but there are plenty of other perks including access to great resources, preferred or free pricing on organization events, discounts on services, insurance, financial planning assistance, and more. PRSA even has a quarterly payment program and a hardship program.
Founded in 1970, The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) provides a professional network of about 15,000 business communication professionals in over 80 countries. They are proud to provide a vibrant resource to members.
Professional Training Programs: IABC organizes a World Conference each year in addition to smaller conferences that address specific topics such as employee communication, research, and measurement. They also offer regional conferences, seminars, and webinars. Members are also invited to enroll in IABC Professional Certificate programs at a discount.
Leadership: Outstanding PR professionals are honored annually with various awards including the Gold Quill Award and the Chairman’s Award. Members can work to receive IABC Accreditation which serves as an important distinction in the industry.
Resources: IABC offers several online and offline tools to help members connect and learn.
- Communication World – member magazine with contributions from industry thought leaders
- CW Bulletin – e-newsletter featuring articles on current trends and helpful how-to’s
- Knowledge Center – packed with helpful manuals, books, templates, and reports
- MyComm – an online strategic communication planning tool
Other resources include the online library Discovery, IABC Exchange and the IABC Café.
Member Benefits: IABC members have everything they need at their fingertips! Beyond easy access to events and online directories, members can also take advantage of the IABC Job Centre which connects them with industry job openings and the IABC Marketplace which connects them with prospective clients. There are also discounts on all publications, online resources and more.
The Canadian Public Relations Society was founded in 1948 and caters to individuals who practice public relations in Canada and abroad. Members work to maintain the highest standards and to share a uniquely Canadian experience in public relations.
Professional Training Programs: CPRS hosts their education conference, the annual National Conference featuring keynote speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities. In addition, local societies host events, workshops, tutorials, and seminars throughout the year and host speakers through the CPRS Speakers Network. Members also have access to tools and resources through the CPRS website and can take advantage of the recognized and well-respected CPRS accreditation program.
Leadership: There are several prominent awards given out each year to members who demonstrate industry leadership. The CPRS National Awards honor performance and service and the College of Fellows recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions during their years of service. On an organizational level, Members are given various opportunities to become involved through volunteering for the national group as well as for the individual local societies.
Resources: There are plenty of publications and resources for members to take advantage of.
- CPRS Membership Directory – an annual directory of members in good standing
- Accreditation Handbook – a guide detailing the criteria for the Accreditation program
- Career Center – the latest and greatest PR job opportunities in Canada
- The Public Relations Strategist (PRSA) – a quarterly that highlights new ideas in strategy and concepts
- Public Relations Tactics (PRSA) – a monthly newspaper with the latest news, trends and how-to information
Member Benefits: CPRS offers its members some fantastic perks. Their generous Member Referral Program rewards members for helping to grow the society. In addition, they offer a discounted subscription to PR Week, deals on insurance, and on the Media Relations Rating Points measurement tool.
As you can tell, membership really does have its privileges! The benefits of belonging to a professional organization are invaluable. From the sense of community and camaraderie to the amazing opportunities for professional development and networking, membership is a wise investment in your career, and that’s always a great idea.