So You Want to Be on the National Committee?

Borrowing the opening line of one of my favorite Nickelodeon shows growing up: “Do you have it? GUTS!”

OK, so being on the National Committee doesn’t mean you’re going to be facing the Aggro Crag (or playing Slam Dunk, or completing the Tornado Run), but it does mean you’re choosing a path that requires hard work, dedication and commitment. National Committee members are tasked with playing a role in advancing a 10,000-member Society. They execute a platform and serve as the face of the Society at the local and national level.

In addition to all the hard work, being a leader in PRSSA is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of, both personally and professionally. It’s how I’ve met some of my closest friends, and it’s how I landed a job at one of the world’s largest public relations agencies. I can’t recommend the experience enough.

So, if you have GUTS, here are the steps you should take if you want to run for the PRSSA 2011–2012 National Committee. (I promise I’m done with the GUTS references now.)

Read the Situation Analysis. My committee and I didn’t put this 60-page document together just for our health. It’s meant to serve as a guide for Chapter and national leaders, both current and future, to build plans and guide our Society in the future. Don’t just read the sections on the position you’re interested in — be sure to get a full understanding of the Society.

Schedule calls. Be sure to give the current position holder a call to get their perspective on things. Also, I’d love to chat with you and let you pick my brain. However, if you haven’t read the Situation Analysis yet, and you ask, “So, what do you do?” you’re not making the most of your resources.

Fill out the PRSSA Candidate Nomination Form on the Assembly webpage. Be sure to be honest, detailed and most importantly, be yourself. Submit it on time and follow the application guidelines.

Build a platform. In the time leading up to Assembly, you should put together a list of your main goals, if elected. Know that this will probably change throughout your National Committee term, but having a concrete vision will be a good start to your term.

Don’t campaign. I recommend not advertising the fact that you’re running for a National Committee position. In fact, it’s not allowed. Remember, all delegates will receive a copy of your Candidate Nomination Form, so they will have all the information they will need prior to arriving in Seattle.

Prepare a five-minute speech. Trust me when I say five minutes is NOT a lot of time. Try to boil down the key goals you will try to accomplish if elected to the National Committee. Also, I recommend practicing your speech in front of peers, focusing on the main points. It’s awkward, but it helps you prepare for when you’re making your speech in front of 120+ PRSSA members.

RELAX. It’s a nerve-racking process, but no matter what the result is, this experience builds character. Anyone who applies for a National Committee position has my utmost respect because it takes GUTS to put yourself out there. (That was the last one, I promise.)

I asked my National Committee colleagues to offer their two cents:

“Preparation is everything. Take time to thoroughly understand the roles and responsibilities of the desired 2011–2012 National Committee position and the other National Committee duties to see how all parties function as an organized unit. Prepare mentally and emotionally to be solid in yourself and skills. Do not hesitate to reach out to us!” — Vice President of Public Relations Danielle DuPree

“When creating your platform, keep the smaller and newer Chapters in mind. They are the ones who will be coming to you for advice about increasing membership, becoming active in national events and building a stronger Chapter.” — Vice President of Regional Activities Rachel Sprung

“Being able to understand where the position is, and where it came from, will help people understand where it’s headed for the future. A lot of the question and answer portion is based on information that comes from the Situation, and the only way to be prepared is to know it and love it.” — Vice President of Professional Development Therese Kuster

“Situation — Action — Results. For the rest of your life, answer questions in that order.” — Vice President of Internships/Job Services Scott Thornburg

“Do not allow your uncertainties control your opportunities. If you have an opportunity, take it!” — FORUM Editor in Chief Kara Robinson

“Stick to your strengths. The National Committee has a variety of positions that rely on different character traits – AP and PRSSA Style perfection, impeccable organization and creative research to name a few. Research each position and go for the one that fits your strengths best. Remember, there’s always room to expand your skill set and try new things within your platform.” — Vice President of Chapter Development Kimberly Ciesla

This is a guest post from National President Nick Lucido.

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