New year, new board, new projects.
Following our typical summer hiatus, the 2021 – 2022 CPRS Edmonton chapter board connected in September to discuss our upcoming year. I’m excited to share that we have an energetic and enthusiastic team focused on supporting northern Alberta communicators and public relations professionals in growing our community. In the past, that meant focusing on growing our membership. This year, it will mean connecting those in our community regardless of membership, while ensuring our members receive advantages worthy of their local contribution and supportive access to National’s resources.
I’ve been part of the Edmonton chapter for a decade now. We face challenges that are chronic — volunteer burnout, declining membership and uncertainty about what innovation can mean for the profession. Other challenges are newer, like the pandemic, reduced budgets in publicly-funded organizations, reduced financial support for professional development from employers and consideration for how we adapt as digital tools encroach on our service and skills offerings.
Former President Lyn Brown and I spent many hours in the past few years discussing how we can tackle some of this as a volunteer board, how associations can stay relevant during a time where people invest in experiences, and how we can leave a legacy of community.
So for the next 10 months, we have plans. For one thing, our board is massive — more than twice its previous size. Our purpose is to engage those who wish to lend a hand at a deep level, mentor more junior members into senior roles for continuity and sustainability of this chapter, and ensure the work remains bite-sized enough to prevent burnout so that volunteers can also work full time.
Shifting to virtual events over the past 18 months has allowed us to reimagine the borders of our chapter, so we can reach out to professionals across northern Alberta — and beyond — to swap stories, laugh about blunders, open doors, trade ideas, discuss ethics and share strategic advice.
Reigniting our mentorship role on the board presents an exciting opportunity for our community members to learn from each other; watch for more information later this year.
We’re very fortunate to have an APR in the accreditation position on the board this year. That means communicators who are interested in a formal credential that recognizes experience, competencies, skills and the breadth and depth of knowledge of PR will have direct support as they pursue recognition for upholding the highest standards of practice.
These are just a handful of the opportunities we’re bringing to the community this year that we hope you’ll participate in. While we can’t yet gather in person, we hope to see you at our upcoming virtual events.
Where should we put our money?
At the October board meeting, our senior board chairs will review and approve our budget to June 2022. Typically, we invest our annual budget in digital marketing and events, though our event costs are significantly reduced in the pandemic. Ultimately, we want to ensure this chapter is meeting the needs of the community.
I’m looking to you for input. The board has about $30,000 in the bank. That’s more than an emergency fund. It’s more than we can, or should, spend in a single year. We receive $50 per member times roughly 100 Edmonton chapter members — $5,000 per year from members. Non-members are charged higher prices to participate in CPRS Edmonton events. This helps to sustain the chapter as well.
How do you think we should strategically spend our budget this year? How much do you think is appropriate for the chapter to save in the bank? We’ve talked about a retreat. We’ve discussed larger scale events and speakers. We’re interested in redoing our website. What would be valuable for you? Let me know what you think at email@example.com.
There is one final topic I’d like to hear from you about. I’m hoping to lead the launch of a legacy project this year — something that provides value for the Edmonton chapter as well as our community, and that reflects and builds on the contributions of past CPRS Edmonton members, volunteers and leaders. Something that will continue to grow over time. I’ve been thinking about communications support for a local literacy nonprofit, but I’m open to suggestions. If you have ideas or would like to volunteer some of your time and communications expertise in support of this project, please connect with me.
I welcome your thoughts for this year.
Crystal Wood, President