Three weeks ago, I was inaugurated as President of the Capital Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association. It’s such an honor and a privilege for me because I am passionate about our profession and committed to excellence in public relations. I love this organization and am so excited for the year ahead.
I joined the FPRA “Cap Chap” as a new transplant to Tallahassee. As a recent graduate starting my first job out of school, I was looking for a way to meet friends and connect with other public relations professionals.
I always heard the saying, “It’s who you know, and not what you know, that really matters.” Since that time, I’ve learned first-hand how important networking with other professionals is for advancement in your career. My education gave me a great foundation, but FPRA provided the springboard that allowed me to take my professional skills to the next level.
Here are my top 8 tips to get the most out of your membership in a professional association:
1. Join a committee. If you are looking to get involved, a great first step is to find a committee that focuses on one of your interests. If you enjoy event planning, join our programs committee. Have a passion for fundraising? Our development committee can use your help. Once you get your feet wet on a committee, consider joining the Board of Directors as a next step.
2. Find a mentor. The FPRA Cap Chap boasts a deep bench of experienced public relations veterans to learn from. Whether you are just starting out in your career or have been in the industry for years, it’s always great to have someone on speed dial you can call when a question arises.
3. Learn a new skill. Associations typically offer numerous professional development opportunities throughout the year. For example, my FPRA chapter plans workshops and brings in national speakers on a variety of topics. Becoming a member of the local FPRA chapter also means you become a member of the State Association. State membership provides additional professional development opportunities, including our annual conference.
4. Build new relationships. In addition to professional development, FPRA offers its members many networking opportunities throughout the year. Meet new people and strengthen relationships with your colleagues outside the office. Expand your personal network and get to know local leaders in our industry.
5. Meet potential clients — or even your future boss. You never know how the connections you make will affect you down the road. I met Ryan Banfill, Partner at Ron Sachs Communications, at the first FPRA luncheon I ever attended. I remember being so impressed with his knowledge of political communications and introduced myself to him at the end of the meeting. Little did I know, I would be working with him just a few months later when I joined the Sachs team.
6. Be recognized for your work. Many professional associations offer award programs and other ways to earn recognition. Our local chapter of FPRA holds an annual Image Award ceremony, and the statewide award ceremony takes place at the FPRA annual conference every August. Early in my career, I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that won the Dick Pope Grand All Golden Image Award for the “Yes on Amendment 4” campaign. Going on stage to accept the highest award given out for a PR campaign is still one of my proudest memories.
7. Stay on top of emerging trends. With ever-changing technology and new ways to connect emerging all the time, it can be hard to keep up. FPRA hosts regular workshops and presentations to help you stay on top of these new trends.
8. Get accredited. FPRA offers a two-tier credentialing process for its members. The first tier, APR (Accreditation in Public Relations), signifies a high level of competence and validates a PR professional’s commitment to the field. The second tier, CPRC (Certified Public Relations Counselor), is available to FPRA members who already have the APR designation and 10 years or more public relations experience.
As with most things in life, you will get out of your membership what you put into it. Membership in a professional organization, like FPRA, will help you keep up and stand out in your industry.
I urge you to visit the FPRA Capital Chapter’s website for to learn how you can get involved in Tallahassee or visit FPRA.org to find how you can become involved in your local chapter.