The Good Seminar: The Needle In the Haystack of Spam

October 8, 2010 at 10:47 am 1 comment

Public relations people must be  (to put it politely) very much in need of further education.  A day doesn’t go by that I’m not being buried in offers for seminars on this, that or the other thing, mostly related to social media.  Well, maybe somebody just thinks I’m dumb and in need of educamation, but…

As an APR, I’m thoroughly committed to constantly improving my “skill set.” But I could spend my whole career doing nothing but attending seminars, webinars and workshops. And I’m not convinced I would know much more than I know now.

I counted: Between Sept. 27 and Oct. 1, I received at least 23 solicitations for educational opportunities. And that doesn’t include the ones buried in newsletters and blogs I read from places like the Public Relations Society of America, the Daily Dog, Ragan and HARO.  They fill my mailbox like weeds in a garden and cost me time just getting rid of them. If a good one comes, it probably gets deleted with the trash.

You can’t get enough education, especially with things changing as quickly as they are. What worries me is that I could teach most of the classes being pitched to me, even about social media. That’s not a comment on my great wisdom, but on the basic (and safe for the instructor) nature of the offerings. I have this strong suspicion that many of these instructors and educational services providers are coming from (a) practitioners who are out of work or (b) agencies that want me be impressed and hire them. Many are being aimed at unemployed PR people who are feeling a little desperate…and can least afford to spend money on mediocre programs.

If the free market in educational services is to work, we need some way of judging all these classes and the people who are teaching them. We need a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for these offerings.

How do you select programs? I, for one, gravitate toward PRSA-sponsored programs or other classes from other places I’ve grown to trust like Ragan and Bulldog. I’m curious what other people to do.

PRSA is meeting next week in Washington, D.C. Lots of interesting things on the Assembly’s agenda, including improving continuing education offerings since they generate a large sum of money and prestige for the organization. Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, if PRSA (I can’t think of a better-qualified organization) established some standards for classes and teachers and offered some sort of objective rating or approval system? Wouldn’t that make it easier to select classes? And it might run some of the poorer programs out of business.

Whaddya say, PRSA?

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Entry filed under: Dealing with social media, Media Relations, PRSA, reputation, stuff & rants. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment

  • 1. Bill Murray  |  October 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Great blog post, which triggered a couple of thoughts. First, about the overload of email. We’ve worked hard to cut down the amount of email we send out; the next step will be to target it better. With the rebuild of our web site last year we installed some new analytics tools, and our emphasis these days is on mining and using that data. Connecting user information with demographic info, we’re working towards sending each of our members information that is more likely to address their needs. We’ve already taken some steps in that direction, but there is more to come.

    In terms of a rating system, we’ve been talking about that, too – though not just talking. We’ve long done post-event surveys to determine which of our speakers do best, and used that data to make program decisions. We’ve recently added a “recommend” button to our web site next to the listing for our course offerings, so if you see something that you like, or a course that you’ve already taken, you can recommend it to your friends.

    We’re also looking at software and options to expand upon this, something that we’ll hopefully roll out next year. In an increasingly competitive world we welcome feedback on our offerings – good feedback confirms that we’re on course, and negative feedback lets us know we have a problem. Not quite sure how we create a platform that ranks competing products as well, but we’ve talked about that as a possibility, though it does present some deeper challenges.

    Finally, very much appreciate the kind words about our offerings, and if you are on the way to our International Conference in Washington DC next week, don’t forget to check out our mobile app for the Conference schedule and more, http://media.prsa.org/article_display.cfm?article_id=1793

    Thanks,

    Bill Murray
    President and COO
    PRSA


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