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To PR association, or not to PR association?

March 3, 2009

An interesting post from Stuart Bruce about whether there is value in local PR association memberships, given that two young professionals had recently let their memberships lapse.

I only joined the Institute of Public Relations Singapore (IPRS) 16 months ago. I’ve always been a skeptic, but it was the first PR association that I joined primarily because a few people I respect (such as Kathy O’Brien) are members and they made the same point to me that Stuart does “you can only change things from within the tent, not from outside.”

I became an accredited member quickly after and then in true busy PR fashion, wanted to do get really involved, but never really found the time. 16 months on, what are the key things that stand out to me?

– Edelman hasn’t received a single new business lead from membership (although two firms in pitches have noted that we were members)

– the IPRS have partnered with Singapore’s Workplace Development Authority to roll-out a program to create jobs in the industry (great initiative)

– I’ve missed three really good speaking events organised by the IPRS

– I’m still waiting (should’ve pushed harder) for the IPRS to develop advanced training curriculum for seasoned professionals

Overall, I’m more disappointed in myself for not finding a way to help advance our industry. Often, it’s all too easy to give up and just wish that things become better through osmosis – they don’t.

There’s also an argument that we can further the reputation of our industry by making it more vocal and embedded into institutes like the 4As or Marketing Association. Good thought, but I haven’t seen PR get any profile here in the last 18 years…

When I worked in London, one of my best friends worked at the British Standards Institution (BSI) and he’s always say that the biggest challenge of our industry was that, unlike lawyers and accountants, there is no legal framework that makes the use of independent PR counsel mandatory.

He’s right – but you’re either a believer in our industry, or you’re not. So today, I’m rededicating myself to do whatever I can (from within the IPRS) to make things better. I’m also urging all members of the PR industry (esp. the younger ones) to try to carve out some time to advance the professionalism, relevance and profile of our industry.

Lord knows we need it! Here endeth the sermon…

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