In an ideal world, planning for the upcoming academic year began in March of the previous academic year. However, not everyone lives in an ideal world. You might have felt lucky to get your new Chapter officers elected before the end of the spring semester. But fear not … all is not lost.
Another important aspect that will help your Chapter run efficiently is having programming fleshed out before the start of the fall semester. I would suggest the Chapter officer with programming responsibilities coordinate with you and your Chapter’s Professional Adviser in reaching out to potential speakers. Your own institution has a plethora of experts available for skill-builder sessions to intersperse between speakers so your programming has some variety. I’ve found it extremely helpful to have at least a rough schedule available at your fall kick-off meeting, even if it just contains subject areas for meetings. You can always publish an updated schedule with speakers later in the semester. Attendance tends to increase and maintain itself when members know in advance what will be discussed.
Presuming your Chapter’s cabinet has been elected, you can ask them to spend the summer generating their goals and objectives. That’s a fairly simple thing to do electronically via Skype or Google Hangouts – being able to pick up on non-verbals can be helpful. Even if your officers can only email each other, you’ll still be miles ahead if they have at least a set of common goals and objectives upon which to work in the coming year.
Finally (as odd as it might sound), beginning your planning for the next academic year in the fall semester prior helps everything work more smoothly without the stress of short deadlines. Without a little advanced planning, the fall semester will be almost over before the Chapter gets its feet under it.
This is a guest post by PRSSA National Faculty Adviser Robert “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA. Follow him @rspritchard.