Grow Your Career in Communications: Check out PRSA’s Sections in 2014

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) relies heavily on the creative, innovative and strategic talents of its membership to drive new initiatives and stakeholder engagement, execute Professional Development opportunities and create rich environments for industry professionals to thrive. We are a self-governing collective of communications professionals who combine our know how and experience for the betterment of our profession and our own careers. 

When you join PRSA, you have the benefits of a national organization, but most of us interact through one of the 100 local chapters based across the USA. But if there is one overlooked opportunity in general in our organization, it’s the key value of Section membership, which gives you the opportunity to learn and network in your specific area of practice. 

For the past year, I had the honor to serve as Chair of the Health Academy. If you’ve worked in health care PR, you know that health care communicators are always on call, from the discovery and development of new medical breakthroughs to the landmark changes put into motion by the Affordable Care Act. While the Atlanta chapter of PRSA has a healthcare SIG or Special Interest Group that is very good, it only represents the healthcare communicators in our region. And the SIG only meets once every month or so, usually a lunchtime meeting. Health Academy as a national organization, offers more in-depth training throughout the year, in teleseminars, newsletters and during our annual 3 day meeting May 7-9 in Washington, DC. 

Because I worked for years in New York and Chicago, it’s just as likely I’ll have a new client there or in Los Angeles or Boston as I would here, so Health Academy is a great way to stay on top of national and international, not just regional trends. 

PRSA has 14 sections like Health Academy, which is the second largest professional section. The largest section is the New Professionals section which is designed to serve the needs of people just entering the PR field, whether they are straight out of college or changing careers from journalism or HR. New professionals are in that section for five years, and then “age” out hopefully to choose one of the other sections as they transition into a PR specialty. What’s the largest professional section now? It’s corporate communications and with the changes in the economy, the strong interest in this section is obvious. 

As a member of one or more Professional Interest Sections, you have access to insider industry information that is critical in today’s highly competitive workforce. Designed to focus on issues, trends and research in specialized practice areas and industries, Sections offer programs and face-to-face networking events that keep you connected with your peers and on top of the latest public relations best practices.

 The additional cost of being a section member is only $60 a year, quite a bargain when you consider the additional benefits.

 Here’s a breakdown of PRSA’s current sections:

Over the course of the year, in my new role as 2014 Section Council Co-Chair, I’m going to blog more about the different sections, their ongoing programming and how you can get more involved. I’d also love to hear your ideas, you can reach me via e-mail at or on Twitter @bengarrettvid or post your comments below. There’s plenty more information at too