Why Trade Group Memberships Matter for Public Relations
By Todd Murphy | June 26th, 2020
Almost every industry has levels of education and training that help those working in that industry perform better. Public relations and corporate communications is no different in that they have masters level degrees, as well as trade groups like PRSA, Public Relations Society of America, and IABC, International Association of Business Communicators. Combined, these options help practitioners improve their skills. This same opportunity exists for the vendors these professionals use, but not all vendors take advantage of these opportunities.
Below I’ve outlined three reasons why you should check the credentials of your vendors, in addition to your team members. Universal Information Services makes it standard practice to belong to the trade groups influencing our practice. A credentialed vendor shows that they are investing in serving you, and here’s why.
- When a vendor belongs to a trade association that focuses on serving your industry, that vendor maintains access to emerging technology, strategies, and potential legislative issues that could impact how they help you. For example, news monitoring and media measurement services have several global organizations that are instrumental in making sure you as a client user get the best quality of service. In addition to best practices and innovation, a media monitor that is active in its trade groups can help protect PR practitioners from potential problems, like copyright infringement. When looking at or working with a vendor that does not carry these credentials, the potential exists for the client user to miss out on the best services a vendor can offer. Several of our best services have come from FIBEP sessions I attended. FIBEP is the global organization for media monitoring and media intelligence services. In fact, their global congress is where we announced our AlphaClips service to the world, the first AI-enhanced news monitoring tool.
- If a vendor that serves public relations and corporate communications belongs to their trade organizations, their employees gain access to all the value and research created by these trade groups. For example, PR measurement is a science unto itself. There truly is no room for flawed methodologies if you want the data you pay for to be useful to you. Universal Information Services belongs to and stays active in AMEC, the international trade group that develops standards, training, and best practices for the science of media measurement. Ultimately, this means that a member of AMEC is more likely to provide you, the client user, with more reliable data and better insights. Using a vendor that doesn’t have access to the AMEC knowledge base would be at a disadvantage because the combined dollars of the members funds groundbreaking research that betters the science.
- Lastly, when a media monitoring or measurement service turns its back on industry groups, it can be a sign that they want to operate in the dark, outside the view of others. In my experience, transparency and openness fuels innovation. Sharing innovation leads to new innovations at a faster pace. If your vendor isolates themselves, and doesn’t participate in their trade associations, why is that? Are they afraid of sharing what they’ve learned? Are they worried someone will steal an idea? Or are they just unable to participate at the same level as the others. In 30 years I have experienced no problems when sharing because the real work comes from how you apply that information and support the client. If a vendor has the best tool in the world but lousy customer service and poor training, how valuable is that tool? Application of knowledge is where business is won or lost.
Industry standards, methods, and tools evolve. Staying involved, whether on the user side with groups like PRSA, or on the vendor side in groups like AMEC and FIBEP, is critical to development. A good client framed the APR designation for PR practitioners like this:
“Besides the tremendous collegial aspects and the networking opportunities PRSA afforded me, continuing education and staying on top of the latest trends in my discipline was important to me. It still is. The APR has been one of the greatest benefits to me, and it is not just to ‘wear’ the credential after my name. The APR provides me a road map and tools to develop an ethical, results-oriented communications plan for any situation.” – John Melingagio, APR, member of PRSA for 30 years
Your clients and stakeholders expect the best from you in terms of your public relations and communications efforts. Do you expect the same level of ethical, results-oriented effort from your media monitoring and measurement vendor? Let me know if you’d like to talk further about the importance of industry associations and professional memberships. Our team believes strongly that we do better work because of the peers we associate with.
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