In October 2010, the PRSA Leadership Assembly met in Washington, D.C. We discussed and debated a number of important issues. We spent the afternoon session discussing the future of public relations. These were important topics, but they cannot be fully explored by a gathering of more than 250 people in just a few hours. There is so much more that we could do.
In 2009, PRSA re-wrote its national bylaws. One of the major changes was the elimination of the “Assembly” and the creation of the “Leadership Assembly” with the job to “advise the board and the profession regarding issues of concern to the profession of public relations. To this end, the Leadership Assembly shall identify, discuss and address issues of concern to the public relations profession, and serve as a liaison between the board and the Chapters, Districts, Sections and membership.” The goal was to create a body that would be engaged at some level year-round. Fixing commas in bylaws would not be our main purpose.
I proposed a resolution at this year’s Assembly year calling on the PRSA National Board to engage the Leadership Assembly more throughout the year. It failed, in large part due to the belief of other delegates that it is not the Board’s responsibility to engage the Assembly – but it is a two-way street and the Assembly needs to engage the Board as well.
Since the Assembly, we have been quiet. There has been little to no engagement. That is to be expected as people catch their breath. But I wanted to take this time to write an open blog post to all Chapters. The Leadership Assembly can only be effective if we have active, engaged delegates throughout the year.
Just as important – PRSA National needs to know who the Leadership Assembly Delegates are. The role of the Assembly Delegate has changed. No longer do we listen to a few calls in the summer and early fall and go for a one-day meeting prior to the International Conference. There is a Leadership Assembly Delegate E-Group that is maintained throughout the year, but if you chart the posts it looks like this:
That is not the sign of a body that is active and engaged throughout the year.
I believe it is time for the PRSA members and Chapters to change this. So please:
1) When electing your chapter officers and board for 2011, make sure all your Leadership Assembly delegate slots are full.
2) Please let PRSA National know by January 31, 2011, who your delegates are. Many times PRSA National doesn’t know until a few weeks before the Annual meeting. That is too late, and cuts your chapter out of any discussion that may happen throughout the year.
3) Hold your delegates’ feet to the fire. Have us give monthly updates at the Chapter Board meeting. If we have nothing to say or report, then something is broken and we are not doing what we should.
Note, I applaud the work all delegates do. I know PRSA National appreciates all the time delegates give. This does not reflect the work they do at their chapters, and many do quite a lot. I have worked with many, many passionate, caring, intelligent and committed delegates. But over the past decades we have set a baseline; now with the bylaw change, we raised the bar. I believe its time for us to step up and give even more.
It’s up to us, the PRSA Members and PRSA Chapter leaders, to make the Leadership Assembly a thriving, dynamic and important element of the Society throughout the year. As a delegate from Boston I promise to give it my all.
Others will be making their New Year’s wishes for peace, happiness, success, and death of the AVE. I will simply wish that the PRSA Leadership Assembly reach its full potential in 2011.
I invite you to join me in making it happen.
Mark W. McClennan, APR is a senior vice president at Schwartz Communications. He is the immediate past-chair of the PRSA Northeast District and a Leadership Assembly Delegate for PRSA Boston. He can be reached at mmcclennan @ schwartzcomm.com or twitter.com/mcclennan