Volunteer with PRSA and Advance Your Career

I first joined PRSA for selfish reasons.  My interest in PRSA began as I transitioned from being a TV medical reporter and producer into broadcast public relations for the healthcare industry because I realized my training in journalism had only addressed part of what I need to know as a PR professional. While I did have a great working understanding of media relations, I was sorely lacking in some of the basic PR skills and strategy. My active membership in PRSA helped me bridge that gap quickly.

After a few years, I was moving up through the ranks of PRSA not by any design but just because I made so many friends and connections and got so much out of the annual meetings and teleseminars. Soon the student became a master of sorts, and I was often asked to share my expertise, which I did gladly  in exchange for all I had learned in the process. Over the years, after serving on boards of several local, state and national charities, joining the Health Academy Executive Committee and later becoming Chair was a natural progression of my public relations career.

Particularly in Health Academy, we often support pro bono and volunteer non-profit public information initiatives but this is also true of many of our professional sections, not only do we thrive by sharing knowledge to sharpen our skills, we often support pro bono and volunteer non-profit public information initiatives that not only better ourselves but also our society. This is true of many our dozen professional sections, whether it is corporate communications or travel and tourism. We learn that it is just as important to give back to our communities as it is to give back to our profession. That also includes mentoring young PR pros as we were mentored years ago.

We all have our own reasons for participating in PRSA. For many of our section members, a particular interest helps public relations professionals transitioning into a different branch of public relations practice from other disciplines to get up to speed quickly, learning the tactics, strategies and jargon unique to what are often highly complex sectors with their own rules, regulations and business practices.

There are actually a number of former journalists on the executive committee of Health Academy, but we’re just a small part of a diverse group that tries to be representative of the breadth of healthcare public relations, whether it is  PR agencies large or small, or whether the practitioner is hospital-based, at a pharmaceutical company, involved in medical information technology, working for insurers/payors, a medical school or institution, a non-profit voluntary health group, or in patient or disease advocacy or an allied field.

The PRSA Health Academy provides valuable real-time training, networking and insight in our ever changing world of communications through our newsletter, our e-groups, and our teleseminars. But as a long time Health Academy member, I know our programming and our group is only as good as the effort our members put into it. If you have ideas of how we can provide better content or member services, feel free to reach out to me at any time. Remember also we have a number of social media tools for engagement, our Health Academy and Friends LinkedIn Group, our Health Academy Facebook Group, and Twitter as well as our community within PRSA.org.

Regardless of your specialty of public relations, or even if you’re a generalist, it’s possible to grow with PRSA throughout your life and career. I was very moved recently to meet Harold Burson, founder of Burston-Marsteller, who has been active member of PRSA for more than a half a century. I don’t think the giants ever stop learning. As you move up in the executive ranks, Counselors Academy is a must, as it’s time to learn all the hardcore business and management skills that you must master as you climb the career ladder.