By SUNY Plattsburgh PRSSA President Laura Colon
Leaders can learn and be influenced by other leaders. At the leadership rally in Scottsdale, Arizona I learned a lot from the people who have lead, are leading, and those preparing to take the leadership role. There were many great opportunities to be taken advantage of during the weekend. It began on the shuttle ride to the hotel where I first met other presidents from all over the country and felt a connection from the start. We came to learn and to share our experience. Group discussions were held at dinner, during seminars, and in our hotel rooms at night. Together, we tried to figure out how to overcome the obstacles we will face this coming year.
During this exceptional opportunity to meet exclusively with fellow PRSSA leaders, three key problems we face as executives were identified: Recruiting members, motivating our teams, and raising funds to bring members to events that we have had the benefit of attending.
Here are the essential ideas I learned through observing various perspectives and interacting with other PRSSA executive members:
1. Recruiting members.
As we all know, recruiting and retaining members is not an easy task. It is important to guide the way of our members and show them that above all PRSSA is valuable. Members are not just a number of people in your chapter, they are essential team members, individuals, and friends. A great pointer was to hold meetings in a place that is easy for members to interact with each other and relax. Holding meetings in classrooms can turn members off and present a hierarchy of executive board members who at times can seem unapproachable.
Mix it up! Hang out and be friends while being a support system for your members. Learn the names of each person and take the time to personally invite them to meetings and events you want to see them at. If you make it known that you want them there, and notice when they are not, they are more inclined to come and participate in team activities.
2. Motivating our members.
For so many of us, attending national events is where we gained such strong dedication to the organization and the profession. Getting members to attend these national events will help them to see the same worth we see in PRSA.
3. Fundraising for national events.
Lets face it; people don’t want to use their money to send someone else on a trip. One fundraising event held by a chapter that I will never forget was the “Bieber Fever” event. They played Justin Beiber’s song Baby over and over until people paid them to shut it off. There are many creative approaches other chapters have used to raise money for their chapters, and they are more than willing to share ideas. Another avenue is to apply for national event grants. Our PRSA parent chapters are dedicated to raising prepared professionals. One of the many ways they show this is by offering grants to PRSSA chapters who show their commitment and potential value to the profession.
These above ideas are just a few solutions to the some of the problems we will face as new chapter presidents. I will tell you that all I have learned at the leadership rally has shaped my discernment as a leader and will help carry forward our new chapter.