I’ve been a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) since I embarked on an accredited Masters in PR back in 2005. I’ve always seen being a member of my industry’s Chartered Institute as playing my part in helping to gain credibility for the industry of ‘professional communicators’.
I first got involved in the CIPR’s Yorkshire & Lincolnshire regional committee about five years ago and am now coming to the end of my two year tenure as a voting member and Officer, having bravely (read: foolishly!) agreed to take on the role of Treasurer. Being a committee member is a voluntary role and can be a big commitment when you consider some of the major events we run throughout the year (including Northern conference, PRide Awards and regular skills workshops). It’s also a fairly big responsibility because you’re not only representing your peers; you’re deciding how their membership fee is best spent on a regional level.
At a time when the profession is undergoing such dramatic change, it’s vital that we attract ‘new blood’ to the committee and the personal advantages of being involved are probably greater now than ever. Here’s what current committee members have cited as the key reasons to join:
1. Play a role in helping your professional community
Working in PR and communications is often a thankless task! It can be difficult to tangibly measure what we do and all too often we’re treated as the ‘whipping boy’ when things go wrong (those of you who know me will know how much the phrase ‘PR disaster’ winds me up for this reason). Playing a role in helping and influencing your professional community can be hugely rewarding.
2. Get the most out of your CIPR membership
If you’ve been a fairly ‘inactive’ CIPR member for years, you may sometimes wonder what you get from your membership besides your (now monthly) copy of PR Week. Well, there are a whole range of benefits besides the credibility that being part of a Chartered Institute gives you and sitting on/being involved in the regional committee helps you make the most of them. Besides having a say on what events are run in the region, you’ll be the first to find out about the latest developments, insights and resources.
3. Expand your professional network
Particularly if you work in consultancy, you may underestimate the value you could get out of networking with your peers, but this is a short-sighted view. You never know who you could work with or for or even just who you could bounce ideas off or find a mentor in. Particularly if you’re new to the profession/region, the career benefits of being on the committee outweigh the commitment to attend meetings and contribute to organising events. There’s also a good social aspect to it (yes, we do occasionally have some fun!)
4. Build your personal brand
Your role on the committee gives you the opportunity to build your own personal brand outside of your day job. It demonstrates to your peers that you’re a leader, not a follower. Because committee members have to be voted in and are given responsibility for representing the region’s membership, it also gives you greater credibility with colleagues, clients and contacts.
5. Gain new skills and experience
When I first got involved in the committee, I didn’t realise how industry bodies worked or the extent of their roles and responsibilities. They are complex organisations which must consistently demonstrate their value and credibility in order to justify membership fees and as a regional committee member you must adhere to a whole range of processes and systems which ensure compliance. It may be a voluntary role but what you learn can be applied to your day job and career development in a range of ways.
If this has whet your appetite, current committee members will be available to talk through what’s involved (ahead of or January AGM where new committee members will be voted in) from 5.30pm on 28th Nov at The Queens Hotel in Leeds before the PRide Awards. Feel free to drop in for a chat even if you don’t have a ticket for the ceremony. Alternatively email Chair Gary Taylor on Gary.firstname.lastname@example.org to express an interest.