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Public Relations practitioners are busy. We all know this and we all live this every day. With all the juggling that PR pros do it is easy for professional development to fall off of the radar. But to advance in your career you must have the personal drive to squeeze that luncheon on to the calendar, read industry blogs during breakfast and seek out the counsel of PR peers.
“Public Relations activities and protocols are not what they were even three years ago,” says Margaret Barchine, APR, Communications Manager at National Alcohol Beverage Control Association. “ The pace at which technology changes, the communications styles of varying generations entering the workplace, public relations practices and protocols and many factors influence the need to keep up with these evolutions. Professional development is a means of doing that.”
While the goal of professional development is to continue to be a student of the trade and stay up to date on trends in the industry there are a few additional benefits for both practitioner and employer:
- Networking– Of course if you leave the office and go to a luncheon you will meet other people. It is not always about the business card exchange. It is about making a connection that you may need to call upon for your employer or client.
- Knowledge base– Case studies of campaigns that have succeeded or tanked, can be a resource to a practitioner to provide insight and examples that they can refer to in their work with management or clients.
- Leadership skills– By participating in a professional development organization frequently members are calls upon to serve as a board member. This opportunity can help to provide hands on leadership skills and insights to those lacking a leadership or management position in the work place.
- Efficiency– Hearing the opportunities and challenges of other organizations and peers through lunch and learns can help save time in your own campaign research, execution and evaluation.
- Creativity– Ideas can be sparked from knowing what is out there that has been done, can be done or has yet to be done. Professional development can be the spark needed to generate the next big idea for your organization.
- Career development– the PR industry is very competitive and great PR jobs are sometimes hard to find. Know that you will set yourself apart in the stack of resumes through your insight to the industry and understanding of the industry trends.
A PR pro who is actively learning and developing their skill set means that the employer is receiving better counsel, better work and better results. It is a win for both the employee and the employer the challenge is finding the time to make sure it is ingrained into your routine and personal growth plan. Professional development is a commitment but also a reward.
“A college degree provides baseline knowledge and is a good starting point but these days everybody has one,” says Linda Pophal of Strategic Communications. “Additional professional development is required to stand out, to stay current, and ultimately, to stay marketable.”