As students, learning happened in the classroom or at a company while shadowing a professional. As professionals, learning is now done on the job or after business hours at industry events. No matter where we are in our careers – beginning, middle or end – communications professionals understand that learning is a lifelong pursuit.
We think Joe Cohen, past national chair for Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), said it best. “In an environment where constant change is the norm, and where the role of the communications professional continues to expand and evolve, ongoing professional development will be increasingly essential for communications pros across all levels of experience.”
Learning and adaptation must be embraced if we want to continue to succeed. Here are just a few ways that communications professionals stay informed and expand our knowledge in this ever-changing field.
From PRSA and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), to the American Marketing Association (AMA) and AdFed, there are a variety of professional organizations for us to join based on our individual careers or interests. We can become a member of the national organization or a local chapter to gain access to a professional network, apply for accreditation and much more.
IABC hosts annual regional and international conferences to give a diverse group of communications professionals the chance to learn and network. Inspired by the conference theme, keynote speakers discuss the latest trends, while open forums allow attendees to discuss and learn more about current issues.
Though not an industry-related organization, VisitPittsburgh hosts a series of social media events, including the popular Tweet, Like and Be Social program, to bring together professionals in the greater Pittsburgh area. Individuals representing various organizations share their social media successes and tips so fellow professionals can learn how to better engage their audiences.
PRSA offers a collection of online tools to foster professional development and career growth. Professionals can participate in online forum discussions, access industry-focused publications or view live webinars covering numerous topics within the field of communications.
Writing is an essential skill for all communications professionals, and because it is proven that reading can help individuals become better writers, it is vital we read as much as possible. That is why we often scan industry-related books and/or review the latest posts on industry leaders’ blogs regularly.
These various professional development opportunities allow us to kill two birds with one stone most of the time. They not only ensure career and personal growth but sometimes give us the chance to network, remain informed of industry trends and stay up-to-date on current events.
We recognize that communications professionals who make professional development a priority are the ones who will learn how to continuously grow and adapt, and never have to worry about falling behind.