PRSA adapts to ever-evolving industry

The PRSA is rolling out on January 1 an "evolution of past plans" in its 2014-16 Strategic Plan, according to the organization's chair-elect Joseph Cohen, SVP at MWW.

The PRSA is rolling out on January 1 an “evolution of past plans” in its 2014-16 Strategic Plan, according to the organization's chair-elect Joseph Cohen, SVP at MWW.

Every three years, the PRSA – which has 21,000 members and 110 chapters – updates its strategic plan, re-evaluating the mission, vision, and principles of the organization.

Goals include championing the strategic value of ethical PR and the role of PR as a lead discipline in driving organizational strategy; creating virtual and face-to-face communities where members build relationships to learn, network, and mentor; and delivering relevant lifelong learning opportunities.

“If you think about how the industry has changed between 2010 and 2013, it has been a transformative period for our profession,” Cohen said. “[In the past], we practiced advocacy, but now it is advocacy as a lead discipline; we built strong communities, but now it is communities online and offline. We have always delivered education, but now it is education in an environment where our members and professionals are wearing many hats they didn't used to.”

The lines have blurred between traditional advertising and marketing versus PR, as well as between journalism and brand and citizen-generated content, according to Cohen. As PR professionals work within such an “interdisciplinary” environment, the PRSA must adapt offerings to reflect members' evolving needs, he explained.

Initiatives that align with the new plan's goals have already been implemented, including the PRSA MBA/Business Initiative – a program that educates business school students on the strategic value of PR. In addition, workshops at the PRSA 2013 International Conference, held October 26-29 in Philadelphia, reflect what members can expect going forward. For example, Altimeter Group's principal analyst Brian Solis, an author and digital analyst, delivered a keynote address about the impact of social media and mobile technology.

“More than three years ago, PR professionals needed to think like a journalist,” said Cohen. “Now they need to think like a journalist, CEO, CMO, and publisher to be an effective strategic communications professional.”

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