The lines are blurring in the marketing, communications, creative and PR worlds.
More so now than ever before.
PR people are playing in the advertising sandbox. Advertising people are adding PR to their resumes. Interactive folks get involved with content. I mean, let’s be honest, the lines aren’t even there anymore. Screw blurring–they’ve completely disappeared!
So, when it comes to choosing a professional organization to be a part of–PRSA, AdFed, AMA, MIMA, IABC–how do you even begin to decide which is the best suited for you?
That specific question was posed to me by a friend this week. And, it’s a good one for the reason laid out above.
It’s a question I’ve struggled with, too. I was active in PRSA circles for YEARS. I was on committees, chaired committees, sat the board, and was even on the executive committee here locally in MSP before I decided to take a step back to start my business.
These days, I’m involved with MIMA (Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association), again sitting on the board.
But, it wasn’t an easy decision. In fact, I’m still thinking about joining PRSA and becoming a two-organization member.
But let’s get back to the question at hand: What’s the best professional org for YOU? How do you make the decision?
I thought I’d share with you the factors that went into my decision-making process. They certainly won’t be the same for everyone–but I thought they might help as you make your decision.
Think about your future
Where do you want to go in 5 years? 10 years? Which organization will help you get there? Which offers you the chance to meet the people that will best shape your future?
Think about your skill set–and the gaps you want to address
Earlier in my career, I worked more in the marketing communications side. I wrote brochures. Worked on web copy. That kind of thing. But, after a little soul-searching, I discovered I wanted to learn more about and get into the world of PR. Enter PRSA. PRSA offered me a chance to learn something I wasn’t getting in my day job. Think about what you want to learn that you can’t get at work–and find an organization that offers that opportunity. Remember, your day job isn’t everything. You can certainly create learning opportunities for yourself outside your 9-5.
Think about the people you want to meet–and be associated with
When I was considering joining MIMA a few years ago, I got to thinking: Who do I know in town? Predominantly, the answer to that question was “PR folks” thanks to my time with PRSA. I know a lot of PR people in town. Not all, but a decent amount. But, you know who I didn’t (and, to a large extent, still don’t) know? Interactive types. Developers. Project managers. Interactive VPs. Content strategists even. All those people–didn’t know too many of them. But, I knew where they hung out: MIMA. That organization was the one spot where all these people gathered–at monthly meetings, at Summit, at the holiday party. I wanted to get to know these people (mostly for business purposes, I’ll admit), and MIMA seemed like the most likely way to do just that. So, think about who you want to meet. The people who will, somehow, shape your career and professional life. Then, find out what professional org they’re a part of and find out if and how often they show up.
Don’t get hung up on price, value prop
This is a mistake I’ve made in the past. I put too much stock in the price tag associated with membership. Whether it was $375 (PRSA’s price tag) or the $230 I pay to MIMA each year, I was putting too much stock in the annual cost of membership. Why would I say that? Dollars and cents matter, Arik! Sure, I would agree. But, compared with the benefit you’ll get on the skills and networking sides of the equation, what is $300? Plus, add in the fact that your employer is probably covering all or some of the cost. For those that ARE picking up the entire cost, think about it this way. What’s that next job worth to you? What about that promotion? A new client? All over the above EASILY exceed that $300 threshold. So, cost just shouldn’t be a consideration. At least not if you’re looking at the big picture.
So, I hope some of this discussion helps. I know this is a decision many are grappling with these days.
What do you think? How are you making decisions about which professional organization you join?