How-To: Keep Your Chapter Engaged During the Summer

Final exams are finished, the dorms are empty and the year’s last PRSSA meeting is in the books; it’s summertime. Yes, the summer is a perfect time to sharpen your skills at an internship or get away and enjoy the simple things in life: the weather, family, sleeping in. However, summer is also the perfect opportunity for PRSSA Chapters to get ahead in planning and strengthen the likelihood of Chapter success. Below are a few ways to utilize the free time and keep your Chapter active in the summer.

Engage Members

Scripps PRSSA engages their members with a Twitter Challenge in the summer.
Scripps PRSSA engages their members with a Twitter Challenge in the summer.

Stay active on the right social media networks and encourage members to participate. Host a monthly Twitter chat and invite other Chapters to join. Not only do Twitter chats help members with professional development, they help your Chapter gain national recognition.

If your Chapter doesn’t have a Facebook group, develop one. Facebook groups allow members to have open dialogue with one another and share potentially beneficial opportunities. It’s important your Chapter fosters not only the opportunity for growth, but also the chance for members to be part of a community.

Make sure your blog remains active. If you’re having a hard time encouraging participation, come up with a creative list of topics and reach out to members directly asking them to participate.

“I think it’s a good idea for Chapters to keep blogging about relevant topics. You can retweet from PR Daily or Mashable, but if that is all you are doing, the Chapter’s voice will be lost when the academic year begins. Take the summer time to show members and fellow PRSSA Chapters that you are an important read,” said Jason Mollica, president of JRM Comm., personal branding guru and author of the #CEOofYOU series.

Hold a competition! People love a good challenge. For example, Scripps PRSSA holds a #ScrippsSummerChallenge annually. The challenge is a month long and begins in July. It asks students to complete a challenge each week and share their accomplishments through social media. A blog recap is written every Sunday to review the submissions. Some past challenges have been to start a blog, write a mentor a thank-you card and connect with someone in the city you’re currently living in. The person who completes the most challenges creatively is recognized at the year’s first meeting and receives a prize for their efforts.

Never Stop Recruiting

Reach out to incoming students by meeting them where they are. Students in the PRSSA Chapter at Northern Michigan University attend an annual, university-sponsored organization fair for incoming students during orientation. At the fair, they present incoming students with PRSSA literature and a clearly effective elevator pitch. Every university has an orientation process and you should be taking advantage of it.

See if your university is able to provide you with a list of incoming students in your university’s public relations specific major. By acquiring this list you can reduce the pressure of recruiting later and effortlessly create a great opportunity for your Chapter. Reach out to the people on this list via email, let them know what PRSSA is all about and personally invite them to your first meeting of the year. You could even split the list up amongst executive board members to create a more personal approach and keep people involved.

Develop Your Chapter’s Internal Network

Just because there aren’t weekly meetings in the summer doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do. Your Chapter’s executive board should be exchanging ideas and even virtually meeting throughout the summer. The most well-prepared Chapters’ executive boards will have everyone on the same page before their first formal meeting. Chapter leaders should be active in preparing themselves for the year ahead by securing programming, preparing for fundraising initiatives and finding new ways to best serve their members. For help with fundraising ideas, check out the PRSSA 2015 Fundraising Playbook.

Utilize and Connect With the PRSSA National Committee

Chapter members and leaders with questions about how to succeed throughout the upcoming year should reach out to the National Committee during the summer. The Committee is comprised of 10 PRSSA members who serve in various roles to help advance the Society and its members. No matter what your question, concern or idea is, someone on the National Committee is ready and willing to aide you in whatever way possible. Do not hesitate to reach out. This year’s Committee is making it a priority to be as accessible and helpful as possible for the members.

Finally, give your members a head start by informing them regularly of the opportunity to attend PRSSA 2015 National Conference in November. Giving them the heads up now will give them extra months to prepare, save money and register for agency tours and fireside chats. See you in Atlanta!

How does your Chapter engage members during the summer months? Share your ideas with other members in the comments!

Gary Bridgens is the PRSSA National vice president of Chapter development and a senior at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. Follow him on Twitter @garingiscaring, connect with him on LinkedIn or email him at garybridgens@gmail.com.

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