Have you considered joining the Association for Astrological Networking? How about the World Association of Detectives? The International Association of Youth Hypnotists, perhaps? Or the American Association of Candy Technologists?
These organizations are real and draw their membership from very specific groups of professionals. They’re known as trade associations and each one of them share a similar mission: to bring professional development, educational and networking opportunities to people with similar careers and interests.
There’s tremendous value in belonging to such organizations and public relations practitioners are no exception. There are countless international, national and local PR associations providing a myriad of services and programs for their members. These groups provide connections to job opportunities and mentoring, and offer resources for professionals to keep up with changes in their industries. As PR people know, few industries are changing as quickly as public relations.
Of course, the largest trade organization for PR professionals is the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Its members number more than 22,000 public relations and communications professionals and more than 10,000 students through the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Although annual membership fees are a bit pricey (but much less for PRSSA members transitioning from college), the access its members have to information, advice and networking is invaluable.
As you seek the benefits of a PR trade group, you should also look locally. You can find dozens of such associations listed, for example, at odwyerpr.com. Wherever you are there’s likely to be a PR or communication-related organization you can join, including the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI), a group with which I’ve been involved since 1990. The huge advantage to local organizations is they’re filled with people who work where you work and can connect you with nearby opportunities you’ll likely use. Through relationships I made with fellow PRPLI members I’ve gotten jobs, consulting work, enhanced my skills, and made lifelong friends.
Whether you’re a student graduating or a professional in search of connections, do yourself and your career a big favor — join a PR trade association. Will you? The benefits can be profound. Your thoughts?
More to come: Another important professional group: AEJMC’s PR Division