You never know the connections you'll make through PRSA

By Mike Boehmer, APR

On Nov. 19 of last year, I walked into the 2015 Blacksmith Awards at the Bell Event Centre feeling a bit anxious and slightly lost. My wife of 18 years, Tami, had passed away just 15 days earlier after living with Stage IV cancer for seven years. Many of those inside the historic hall had known Tami, a long-time PR professional in Cincinnati.

Mike and his beloved wife, Tami. Mike is the Media Manager at Mercy Health.

Mike and his beloved wife, Tami. Mike is the Media Manager at Mercy Health.

My slightly awkward feelings evaporated almost immediately as PRSA friends and acquaintances greeted me with compassion and understanding. I felt a deep connection to those I had gotten to know over the years – a bond far beyond our professional commonality.

I share this story to thank those who supported me during this challenging period. I also want to give a vision to PRSA newbies of the connections you will make by getting involved in this wonderful organization.

My involvement in PRSA started way back in the early ‘90s (1990s, not 1890s!), when my manager suggested that I join to help him keep a pulse on the latest in PR. He even suggested that I might meet a nice woman there, as I had entered my 30s as a bachelor. I was new to PR, having served as a print journalist for 12 years.

I actually did meet Tami at an IABC meeting! She was short, cute and an Ohio University graduate. I overheard her saying that she had broken up with her boyfriend and lost her job. I had just completed a job search – with the help of PRSA contacts – and quickly volunteered to assist her. One thing led to another … but that’s another story.

My involvement in PRSA has ebbed and flowed over the years, as life circumstances have dictated. But I have reaped the benefits of my times as board member, committee volunteer, APR course instructor and evaluator, assembly delegate, program attendee … tenfold.

If you haven’t already, please join PRSA and start attending meetings. Volunteer to serve or lead a committee. Serve in chapter leadership. Do whatever your busy schedule allows.

You will develop relationships with fun, creative, amazing people. They will do far more than offer you career advice or discuss solutions to your latest PR challenge. They will help you celebrate the good times and handle challenges. I know from firsthand experience.