EDITORIAL: While its offer to help US diplomacy is noble, the PRSA must now focus on industry issues

Industry associations, particularly ones like the PRSA, that strive to represent a broad range of professionals, have a tough job to do. Del Galloway, who takes over as president and CEO in January 2004, says the PRSA will continue focusing on the three pillars that it prioritized this year - advocacy, professional development, and diversity.

Industry associations, particularly ones like the PRSA, that strive to represent a broad range of professionals, have a tough job to do. Del Galloway, who takes over as president and CEO in January 2004, says the PRSA will continue focusing on the three pillars that it prioritized this year - advocacy, professional development, and diversity.

These goals are clearly consistent with the PRSA's ostensible purpose. Galloway also says that the PRSA is in initial discussions with the US State Department to offer its collective expertise in developing strategy for improving the image of the US overseas. Though this idea is only at an embryonic stage, I can't help thinking that the PRSA is better off sticking to its primary mission, and focus on achieving those pragmatic and important goals to enhance the profession. Not that I don't believe the PRSA could not add value to the international PR efforts. But this "let's help America improve its reputation" bandwagon is in danger of being oversubscribed. It's easy to understand the attraction, as it's really the ultimate client reality show, an intellectual exercise for communicators keen to tackle something really meaningful, with huge political and economic implications. However, the PRSA faces daunting challenges without trying to take on the country's image woes. Galloway also speaks of finding new, innovative ways to reach the most senior professionals, those who have been in the industry for 20 or more years and need less of the how-tos and more of the peer-to-peer interaction and enrichment. He also talks about the need to form alliances with organizations promoting diversity in the profession. The lack of diversity, as has been endlessly discussed, is not an issue that is easily solved. Through these and other programs, the PRSA can continue to increase its relevance to the profession, something it must constantly do in order to thrive. Moreover, developing better communicators in corporations, nonprofits, and agencies, who represent ethnic and cultural diversity, as well as diversity of ideas and experiences, is a vital part of improving America's reputation. As these professionals take on public roles of increasing responsibility, they will be among the leading models of US business virtue. PRWeek presents second healthcare conference PRWeek's upcoming healthcare conference, Pharma PR: The Real Direct-to-Consumer, has the strongest balance between corporate and agency speakers that we've had for a conference so far. We are extremely gratified that these pharma companies are teaming with their firms, and other companies, to discuss important concepts in this increasingly complex market. Feedback from last year's conference, Pharma's PR Diagnosis, yielded unexpected intelligence on the value of this sort of event. Many said the chance to talk informally to clients, peers, and prospects about the topics raised in the sessions was one of the most beneficial by-products of the conference. This year's event, focusing as it does on that critical stakeholder - the consumer - will create an even greater opportunity to share ways of communicating with this audience. The one-day conference will take place on November 12, 2003, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. For more information or to register, click here.

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