Evaluating the acronyms: some factors in choosing a PR association.

As a PR student, have you ever given some thought to joining a professional association? Becoming a member to a professional association has many advantages: most obviously, it allows you to tether with the association’s credibility, it gets you involved in the association’s activities and inner workings, and will likely present a lot of networking opportunities.

Basically, the PR associations I’ve heard talked about the most are the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS – Canada-wide), the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC – Montreal chapter), and the CPRS has a local chapter in Quebec called the SQPRP (Société québécoise des professionnels en relations publiques).

Here’s a few factors to consider when shopping around for “the right professional PR association for you”:

Our field is all about networking, so a good idea would be to check out the association’s events page online to gauge networking opportunities. Some things to consider: have there been many events in Montreal and where have they been held? Are they expensive to attend? Are they well-attended? A great way to gauge the fun-factor for something like networking cocktails (which are at the top of my interest list!) is to join the association’s Facebook group to check out pictures of past events.

Having taken a look at the IABC, CPRS, and SQPRP websites, I’ve gathered that all three associations offer great (and inexpensive!) professional workshops and seminars, but the SQPRP wins out in terms of meet-and-mingle events. The fact that the IABC has a website dedicated to its Montreal chapter means (to me) that their local community may be more active than that of the CPRS. This remains to be seen, as their events calendar is unfortunately out of date…

The language in which the association communicates is an issue you’ll only encounter in Quebec, but is nonetheless a very important one! Although many of you Anglo-McGillians may initially prefer an English-language association, consider the opposite. I purposefully sought out a French fix for supplementing my PR knowledge and portfolio by joining the SQPRP in my third semester of my graduate PR program.

What did I get in return? Access to an exclusive French e-newsletter with articles about current issues and practices, French/bilingual job postings, and upcoming events. It was a great way to brush up on my bank of French PR terms (wait, how do you say that in French?!) while learning more about the profession’s inner workings.

Price. We are students, aren’t we? If you hold price as a deciding factor in this case, you’re in trouble! The SQPRP, CPRS, and IABC student membership prices hover around the very inexpensive $50 price mark and offer you membership for a year. If you still think $50 is a little steep, consider what Elizabeth Hirst has to say about it: “Would you pay $50 for a job?”. There’s a good chance your career could launch from a job posting or contact you made through a professional association. The key is to take advantage of student pricing while you can, because memberships to professional associations can cost several hundred dollars after graduation (SQPRP = 428.14$ for regular membership!).

When making a decision, I recommend to ask, ask ask, try attending different events, then take the plunge into all the great advantages of a professional membership!

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