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How Public Relations Works

Public Relations Society of America
Public relations professionals handle publicity for red-carpet events.
Public relations professionals handle publicity for red-carpet events.
Charley Galley/ AFI /Getty Images

Approximately one out of every five public relations professionals in the United States belongs to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the largest public relations organization in the world [source: Northern Kentucky University]. The association's stated objective, with over 28,000 professional and student members in 116 national chapters, is "to unify, strengthen and advance the profession of public relations" [source: PRSA].

To become a PRSA member, you have to devote at least half your professional time to the practice or teaching of public relations. Full membership costs $225 a year and associate memberships (for those with two years of PR experience or less) costs $155 a year. PR college students can join the Public Relations Students Society of America with chapters at over 280 US universities.

PRSA membership offers many benefits, including networking, professional development, career services, conferences, official publications and mentoring [source: PRSA].

As a member, you have access to the Membership Directory, a searchable online list of all other PRSA members. You'll also have the option of joining local chapters, professional interest sections, or signing up with national Affinity Groups like the New Professionals [source: PRSA].

Members and non-members can sign up for dozens of professional development seminars each year. A few are live and on-site, but most are either teleseminars or Web seminars. Recordings of teleseminars and Web seminars can be accessed after the live event for 15 days. And with special "on-demand" seminars, members can download courses anytime they want.

The PRSA also holds an annual, multi-day international conference with hundreds of professional development courses, famous keynote speakers and endless opportunities to network with fellow PR practitioners.

At the PRSA Job Center, job seekers can search listings and post resumes, while employers can search resumes and post listings.

The PRSA also offers professional accreditation to qualified members through the successful passing of a Readiness Review and Comprehensive Exam. Those who pass the exam then hold the official title of Accredited in Public Relations (APR).

The PRSA publishes two member magazines, Public Relations Tactics and The Strategist, portions of which are available for free on the PRSA Web site.

For more information about public relations and related topics, check out the links on the next page.