Volunteering with PRSA: What’s in it for you?

June 4, 2010

By William M. Murray, CAE
President and COO, PRSA

PRSA is seeking leaders to run for election to the national board of directors. The deadline for interested candidates is June 14. Of course, PRSA members are busy these days — especially since PR professionals often find themselves in demanding, 24/7 jobs.

But if everyone is so busy, why do our members continue to step up and give their valuable time to our organization — not just serving on the national board, but also in our Chapters, Sections and other communities? 

I’ve often asked this question through the years, and the range of responses from our volunteers reminds me that volunteering is a tough but rewarding job.  Yes, that sounds like a cliché — so let’s start with the evidence.

A study released this April by UnitedHealth Group and VolunteerMatch found that 68 percent of volunteers surveyed agreed that volunteering makes them feel physically better; 95 percent of respondents agreed that volunteering makes people happier.

But there are other reasons to volunteer, including realizing your professional goals and giving back to your profession.  Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to lead, showcasing your potential.

Leadership entails the ability to make a decision when all of the facts are not apparent, defend your decision and rally others through persuasive argument. Back in the day, this experience could have come from a cradle-to-grave career track as you moved within a company.  Today, we learn by handling whatever comes our way.

Leadership is one of those funny things that is easy to identify in action, but difficult to distill. Countless books offer advice, tricks, exercises and tips for readers to hone their skills. However, leadership is an art rather than a science, and cannot be reduced to a formula.

We can, however, learn from others as role models, learn by doing and improve with practice. PRSA members exemplify this every day as they work with their fellow members to make their PR community a better place.

Volunteering is not just a chance to hone leadership skills, network with other leaders and receive recognition. It is also an opportunity to give back to your professional community — part of a long-standing  American tradition. In fact, rates of volunteer service reportedly have risen in 2009 despite one of the toughest economic climates in years.

So give some thought to joining your friends, neighbors, co-workers and, yes, competitors, who have come together to volunteer at PRSA:  There are a lot of great reasons to do so, including the one that’s right for you.

Recruiting for national leadership
PRSA’s 2010 National Nominating Committee is now recruiting candidates for 2011 Board Officers and Directors, as well as for Assembly Delegate-at-Large and Assembly International Delegate-at-Large positions.

In reviewing candidates, the committee weighs qualifications such as proven leadership skills and professional accomplishments, and also considers: 1) diversity of practice sectors, such as agency, corporate, nonprofit, military and academia; 2) geographical distribution in line with membership; and 3) ethnic diversity.

The submission deadline for applications is June 14. Please visit our website for more details.


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