As we mentioned in our last post, we are pleased to launch a year-long project capturing the stories of association volunteers. We’re picking up on the National Day of Listening, StoryCorps project to encourage Americans to collect and share stories.
We begin with Lisa Miles’ story as told to Carol Blattau. Lisa, president of Miles Public Relations, is the consummate association volunteer. Her passion for her profession fuels her passion for her volunteering. And she has cultivated this passion through the Maryland Chapter of The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-MD).
You’ve got to have the passion for it…you’ve got to love the industry…you’ve got to love the profession…and you’ve got to have gotten something positive out of the association you’re a member of in order to become a volunteer. This is my second time around on the board, and it is because I am loyal to PRSA and because I feel I owe PRSA a lot in terms of my career, that I’m willing to give back.
Lisa first joined PRSA in 2000 as a place to network and learn more about the PR industry. While attending a chapter event, another member invited her to join a committee. She soon found herself immersed in the association. Over the next eight years, Lisa served in a variety of positions including committee member and committee chair for the Best In Maryland Awards, treasurer, membership chair, president-elect, president, past president, and assembly delegate. She is also the APR chair advising candidates who are preparing to sit for the APR accreditation, the only professional certification program open to public relations professionals (which naturally Lisa holds). This year, she was elected president-elect once again.
One advantage Lisa finds to being involved in her association is the opportunity to keep on top of the trends and issues in the PR industry. “Being a board member, I’m encouraged to attend the monthly meetings so I get a better sense of what’s happening in the industry.”
But PRSA MD is more than just monthly events. There is also a strong networking system, which says Lisa exists because members treat each other as colleagues instead of competitors. There have been a number of times she’s called on colleagues. She shared this recent experience: “I called Jeff Davis because social marketing is still very new for me. From knowing Jeff through PRSA and working on committees with him, when I was charged with social networking for one of my clients, I was able to call on Jeff and ask for help. I asked ‘will you meet with me and teach me the basics.’ I would never have met him if not for PRSA MD.”
For Lisa, association volunteering means putting in the time, effort and resources into an organization to further and better its cause. It’s also a way of giving back to an organization that has given so much to her.