Plan how you're going to use your membership

BY Laura Sutherland, CHart.PR, fCIPR, AUra PR

I always see memberships as investments. There’s a reason you chose to have one.

Take the gym for example. You go to the gym three, four or maybe even every day of the week. You make sure you go to get value from your membership, but you also put the effort in to get results for your health! I think of my CIPR membership in the same way. You get results from putting in the effort.

I’d say right now there has never been a more obvious time to upskill and develop yourself. Automation and AI is becoming the norm and adapting to digital tech has (finally) been accelerated through remote working during the pandemic.

Now I know that some people moan about memberships, I’ve volunteered in many roles for the CIPR for 11 years now, I’ve heard it. There’s always been one common theme. The person has never planned HOW they will use their membership, so they’ve never really put in the effort. See where I’m going?!

I’ve been doing CPD for years. Not only do I need to, to remain chartered but I want to. Every year I plan what I’m going to learn, and it starts with me. What do I want to achieve this year and what do I need to do to get there?

I’ve got three mentees this year through the CIPR’s Progress mentoring scheme which I helped develop. I also do my own coaching and mentoring for private clients, most of whom are PR professionals. Our conversations are not too dissimilar to those I’ve had over the years when people want to know how everything works. The truth is, it’s kind of up to you as a professional to find out what’s on offer and plan what you want to do.

For example, here are ten specific things I continue to get out of my membership: 

1. As a volunteer I’ve met other amazing volunteers and they have formed a trusted network. As a consultant, I need this!

2. The CPD platform has helped me plan my learning and obviously log my points. Simple way of keeping track.

3. The free webinars are awesome. I love being able to pick and choose what I want to learn about and I’ve even suggested some new ones to record in the past.

4. I’ve been to networking events across the UK and I’ve met some great new contacts. Contacts who have turned into direct results on my bottom line!

5. Clients really appreciate the effort I put into developing my skills and knowledge – they directly benefit!

6. Being chartered has helped me increase my fees, I take pride in telling people and it demonstrates you’re not just a woman and a laptop.

7. I’ve used the free ethics hotline before when I was dealing with a client’s crisis. I just wanted to make sure I had covered all my bases. 

8. Every year I get my professional insurance through a CIPR recommended provider and you get a discount!

9. The thinking and conversations being had by groups such as #AIinPR are helping me understand what’s around the corner and how I can learn and plan. It needn’t be scary, but you do need to educate yourself.

10. The template contract is one of the most used materials I’ve had, since I started my business 11 years ago. 

And lastly, if you’re a member of an industry association, you can *actually* help shape the future of the industry! Your opinion matters and you can help change things. How’s that for big picture stuff?!  If you split the membership fee over the year, which you can now do even if you’re a new member, via direct debit, and you work out the weekly/monthly cost versus how much you already pay for tools to collect coverage, create content or schedule and monitor social channels, I think you’ll find that the value is absolutely there.

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