PRSSA executive boards across the country typically have meetings or at least summer check-ins to prep for the upcoming school year. They’re working on gathering speakers, making social media plans, prepping topics for professional development sessions and of course brainstorming about recruitment strategies. Half of the battle of recruitment in the fall is encouraging members that joined last year to renew. One way to keep those retention rates up is to keep your members engaged over the summer. Below I break down five fun ways to keep interacting with your members over the summer to retain your membership numbers in the fall.
Each Tuesday over the summer, share one upcoming event that you’re planning to do in the fall. If you don’t have all of the details, make the post vague or ask members for suggestions. For example, if you booked a big speaker for one of your first meetings, share the size of the company they work for or their industry.
Ask members what they want to do in the fall even before the semester starts. That way you’re catering to their interests and giving yourself more time for planning and promoting the events. You can do this through a social media poll or by sending out a survey (students probably check their social accounts more than their emails in the summer). Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, host an Instagram or Facebook Live to get ideas and thoughts in the moment. Bring in one or two executive board members to foster the discussion.
Summer is a time full of internships (maybe less so this summer, but virtual internships are still definitely a thing) and people love to talk about all of the amazing opportunities they’ve had. If you see on a member’s LinkedIn that they’re working for a nonprofit or at a major firm, send them a message and ask if you could feature them. This is an opportunity to hear about what they’re up to, remind them that PRSSA exists, and get some solid content for either your Chapter’s social accounts or website/blog.
The public relations industry is ever-changing, especially in the middle of an international pandemic; however, the news can get overwhelming. Encourage your executive board to send in one interesting, fun, or helpful article each week, then compile them all at the end of the week and send them out to give your members the highlights.
Being friendly and creating those personal relationships is one of the best ways to recruit. If someone’s friend is going to a PRSSA meeting on a Monday night, that person is more likely to join. Split all members’ names up amongst all the executive board members and then encourage the e-board to reach out at least once a month either via email, text or even social media.
Keeping members engaged throughout the summer can make a huge difference when they look for organizations to get involved with in the fall. Especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fostering virtual connections is key to maintaining a strong Chapter.
Jenna Newman, 2020–2021 vice president of member services, is a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. Jenna is pursuing a master’s degree in communications with a certificate in public relations and advertising. She previously graduated from the University of Delaware in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in interpersonal communication and a minor in global studies. Jenna hopes to bring light to all of the many opportunities PRSSA can provide for students, while helping Chapters grow and succeed.
If you’re looking for more membership and recruitment tips for both the summer and the fall, reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.