The theme of the Sept. 13-14 ECD QuickStart conference in Columbus was “Future Facing.”
Not just rising trends, new practices, or emerging indicators. It took a hard look at the capital “F” future of our industry and organization by facing the critical themes of Youth and Diversity.
Friday: A Head Start to QuickStart.
After Friday’s board meeting several board members joined the ECD Diversity & Inclusion Focus Group facilitated by Shanita Akintonde, 2019 National Chair PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Shanita asked us to draw a tree, then describe it in a couple of words. Next, we partnered with another focus group member “with eye color darker than ours” to share our definitions of diversity. It immediately challenged core assumptions and launched a deep dive into “diversity of thought.”
Small groups huddled and brainstormed to answer the question, “How can PRSA Make the PR Profession More Diverse and Inclusive.
Here’s one result: Meet people where they are. Operate with intention. Look at the self (for implicit bias), then do the same with circles of friends (personal, professional, PRSA). Review and analyze current tactics for recruiting membership and programming. Have authentic discussions – listening and learning – within our circle of influence.
The time passed quickly and gave the focus group a head start on what Shanita would address on Saturday in the full conference.
Saturday: A Full Day of Future Facing
ECD Board President Jennifer Flowers-Kolf and chair-elect Adrienne Wallace opened the conference and welcomed 40-plus ECD board members, National guests, presenters and ECD chapter representatives. Fahlgren Mortine was again the gracious host of QuickStart in the comfortable surroundings of FM headquarters at Easton Station.
Jennifer gave the state of ECD and its 17 chapters. She discussed delegate proxy representation at the national assembly, Diamond awards deadline, best practice calls, district reps visiting chapters, and all resources “to get what you need” including the social media platforms. She announced chair-elect Adrienne will plan the next QuickStart in 2020 as the new ECD chair.
We began a full agenda that weighed heavy on the development of PRSA membership. National VP of Membership Jay Starr gave the overview on recruiting and retention. Fahlgren Mortine presented “Creating Critical Culture” as the foundation of success on the agency level. Shanita Akintonde talked about “Being Deliberate” about Diversity and Inclusion and building an inclusive chapter.
The afternoon began with Dream Bigger workshop by Katie Wilson, and the challenge of building effective thought leadership programs for chapters. Jennifer Kramer followed and took us through the history of the YouToo Conference to illustrate the building of partnerships with future members.
The Diversity and Inclusion conversation moved to the PRSSA level and the recruitment of Millennial and Gen Z members with PRSSA presenters Delany MacKenzie and Emily Gagnon.
Andrea Clark, in a “goodbye address” after her long service to ECD, reflected on the strength of associations today in the culture and “How to Stop the Brain Drain” of waning membership.
If you missed QuickStart here’s a chance to review some takeaways from the speakers and link to the full schedule and PPT presentations: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1GTDLg77h6flimsLi2reB9sffzSazjVVu
The State of PRSA National Recruiting & Retention in Membership – Jay Starr
Jobs in PR and related fields number about 270,000 with a median annual pay of $60,000. Six percent growth is expected. PRSA membership is in a “sweet spot” of 77 percent retention rate, but year one retention rate is only 46 percent, compared to national average of about 55 percent.
PRSA membership is relatively steady at about 24,000 members, with many paying extra dues for professional section memberships. PRSSA has about 10,000 members in 350 chapters.
The successful Certificate program includes reputation management, content marketing, measurement/analysis, with crisis management coming. The cost is about $1,200 for six live webinars. They’re available online and involves practitioners from various industries. The cost is $200 per live webinar.
He outlined the member benefits of the speaker register program and the MyPRSA forum.
Group memberships will get a boost with the National Football League joining.
He emphasized the good deal of “Triple Play” membership and the onboarding program welcome.
Learning opportunities included the third party contributed SmartBriefs. He emphasized discounts as added value for members.
Jay looked ahead to the membership census data update and said an updated membership brochure coming. He raised a few eyebrows in the room when he talked about the continued strength of printed marketing materials and the better connection and perceived value of mailed materials arriving on a member’s desk.
QuickStart Creating Critical Culture – Marty & Christopher – Columbus Fahlgren Mortine
“The Columbus Way is the Smart Way” was the lead-off message from host presenters Mary and Christopher from Fahlgren Mortine. Key thoughts for a successful work culture included:
Leaders who listen
• Acceleration partnership programs.
• Little things make a difference.
• Acknowledging hard work is key.
• Gratitude in the work place is essential.
• Writing the goals is only half of it. You have to live it.
They illustrated projects that established values, engaged workers and built outcomes that benefited the company and the community. Operation Feed Week has provided more than 120,000 meals to the Mid-Ohio Food Banks. The July 2018 Inaugural Carpool Week matched FM staff with neighbors and reimbursed Uber/Lyft expenses so they could connect as people and a culture traveling together to and from work. It cut single-occupancy commuting miles in half!
Their motto comes President & CEO Neil Mortine, President & CEO: “I firmly believe that the best culture leads to the best employees, and the best employees lead to the best clients.”
Future Facing – Diversity & Inclusion – Shanita
Shanita announced October is PRSA Diversity Month. She said Focus groups have shown that chapters are mostly white and female (not news!). PRSA is looking at chapters and how to encourage diverse membership. Taking a closer look at the demographic choices and impressions in marketing materials was revealing. Key points:
• Inspire people to come on board, take leadership roles, and bring expertise.
• What areas of interaction impact diversity? (Including support staff to janitorial staff).
• CARE conceptual frame: Commitment to inclusive excellence; Advocating organizational success; Reaching and retaining underrepresented groups; Embodying principled leadership.
• Can’t please everyone; key is to spread it out. Don’t have just one brochure, one focus. Diversity should be embedded in the culture of the group that it doesn’t stand out as obvious or insufficient.
• Photographs allows for strong interaction and human face is most powerful.
• Diverse Voices – PRSA book of leader profiles. Recommended reading!
Dream Bigger – Katie
Katie challenged members to think about how PRSA has impacted your career… How does PRSA provide value to you… What more do you want to get out of your PRSA involvement? Define your “aim” or overall focus/goal/dream for PRSA chapters.
ECD -chapter thought leadership:
What’s the aim?
Generate ideal fit clients
AIM for chapters:
Interactive across ECD
Diverse membership and leadership
Creative combination of professional development, social interaction, supportive associative family of like-mined, passionate practitioners.
Much higher public profile of what PRSA is including community benefit.
National – make communication pros smarter, better prepared and more connected through all stages of their career.
Thought leadership for chapters
Perception (how you want to be perceived vs. actual perception)
1. Connect – prioritize relevance to audience.
2. Credibility- thoughtfully build representation. (Awards, boards, speaking, media).
3. Communicate – strategically sharing your expertise. (Content development, social profiles, engage your network, amplify and repurpose).
Update LinkedIn; publish PRSA activity; engage with peers: share, comment, react to chapter events, member and chapter posts, personal recommendations.
Impact – engage partners to influence your audience.
1. Identify – authentic engaging partners. (Criteria/ideal; communities you want to reach, network, research fit, define KPIs).
2. “Ideate” – prioritize creativity and collaboration.
3. Integrate – elevate the influencer content. (Engagement, Multi-channel, repurpose, measurement, ambassadors, feedback).
Build relationships; add value to other groups – not only about yourself; help connect.
Do more speaking to schools, other groups.
Generate blogs, videos.
Member spotlight – personality, interests.
Future Members – Jennifer
Diversity PRSSA – Delaney
Jennifer and Delaney outlined the distinction between Millennials and Gen Z and noted that Gen Z will make up 40 percent of U.S. consumers by 2020, 47 percent of Gen Z represent ethnic minorities, and 75 percent of Millennials share content online.
Break-out groups discussed how their chapters target these groups, engage them in meetings, and what roadblocks you face in recruitment. With the guidelines of “Be Real; Be Inclusive; Be accessible; Be Worth It” the groups took on a case study of how to recruit Gen Z “Jackson.”
Brain Drain – Andrea
Andrea began with her personal “PRSA Journey” and asked members to share “Why PRSA Has Been a Mainstay for Me?” Among the QuickStart crowd, appreciation of the organization was overwhelmingly positive.
Andrea gave a brief history of trade and professional organizations, noting 67,000 exist today. PRSA began in 1947 and reached a peak membership of 30,000. Today it struggled to maintain membership above 22,000.
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