In 2009, my colleague, mentor and friend Terry Flynn, suggested that I join the Canadian Public Relations Society. I did, and I have found it to be incredibly rewarding. I now recommend joining a professional society to every professional communicator I know.
Here are five reasons to join a professional association:
1. Ethics Code: One of the most valuable aspects of membership in a professional association is the ethics code that the association requires you to submit to. This may seem abstract until you face an ethical quandary and are able to say “My professional association ethics code doesn’t allow me to do this.” That’s a powerful argument for you to keep your practice ethical despite pressure.
2. Professional Accreditation: A postsecondary degree or diploma is an important first step toward building a career as a professional communicator, but validation by your professional peers provides a level of recognition that marks you as a seasoned and trusted professional. I am very proud of the APR designation that I earned through CPRS. I know colleagues who hold the ABC designation from IABC are equally proud of their achievement. Accreditation means that your industry peers think you are an ethical, competent strategic communicator – that’s golden!
3. Cultural and Social Capital: Membership is a first step toward building relationships, but the longer you remain a member the deeper your roots in the organization can grow. You can build serious social and cultural capital by being elected to association boards or sitting on committees.
4. Professional Development: It is hard to keep at the cutting edge of the profession after leaving college or university because time is a precious commodity. Professional associations have the resources to bring the best national and international experts to you so that you can meet them and learn from them.
5. Awareness of Opportunities: Professional associations are a great way of meeting like-minded people with whom you may share common goals and outlook. Those people can make you aware of professional and personal opportunities… a new job, client or friendship may await you!
Professional associations can help keep your career fresh. Below, you can find a brief bio of my involvement with CPRS, IABC, CIPR and others – I hope it inspires you get involved. If my positive experience is any guide, you’ll have a great time once you join your professional association of choice!
My professional society bio
Since 2009, when I joined CPRS Hamilton, and especially since I became program director of the McMaster-Syracuse MCM program, I have also joined the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators and the Chartered Institute for Public Relations (UK).
In 2011, at the invitation of committee chair Colleen Killingsworth, I began sitting on the National Education Council of the Canadian Public Relations Society, and also as Professional Development Chair for the Hamilton Chapter of CPRS. In 2013, I began sitting as CPRS’s representative to the international Commission on Public Relations Education.