How much is your work worth?

This isn’t an idle question. We all want to be recognized and compensated for the value we bring to the table and the results we generate for our bosses (or our own businesses). It’s about value. And money.

I’ve written before about how you can’t pick my brain. I’ve talked about selling value (not price). I’ve voiced my concerns about quid pro quo deals. And I’ve made difficult choices to turn down work in order to pursue clients who are a better fit for my business. So it was very disappointing to learn that the association that represents my profession would issue an RFP looking for an agency to provide PR and content marketing services for “up to 15 days” — for free. Or, as they choose to call it, pro bono.

You can’t represent me if you don’t value my profession.

Super Valu

IABC just doesn’t get it.

The IABC chair responded to these concerns by suggesting that “just like lawyers, accountants, and other professionals, communicators also sometimes take on pro bono briefs for organizations and causes they support.” But this is not the same. Lawyers aren’t helping other lawyers for free; they’re helping non-lawyers. PR pros aren’t helping other PR pros for free; they’re helping nonprofits (not associations) who can’t afford to pay their fees.

IABC’s paid staff are well compensated. (Their work is valued.) The conference IABC wants help for is “an important revenue-generating opportunity for the organization.”

Another board member also weighed in via tweet:

Their brand? They are devaluing my work — and their brand.

At least ballpark value the “ask” correctly.

The RFP states that IABC will provide “$20,000 in advertising, event registration, and event sponsorship benefits.” But this assumes the total value of all this work is $1333.33 per day. Seriously?

I don’t think so.

For an estimated $2,000 per person (with travel & hotel), I could send 10 people to attend the international conference to learn and network — and doubtless get far more value. Not to mention that while my team was working for IABC for free I would be losing that billable time. Even taking IABC’s ridiculously low rate at face value, you’d have to double it to account for the lost billing.

I’ve been an IABC member for 15 years, and spent six of those years serving on my local board. I’ve also supported the broader leadership (including at the old district level) and volunteered my time on a membership committee at the international level. I’ve made friends, and business contacts, and garnered work from my IABC network.

In other words, my IABC quals are pretty solid. I’m not a “hater.” But I hate that they’re devaluing my profession — and I had to say something.

Because if we don’t speak up, we erode our own value.

Know the value of you. And never devalue your work — or your worth.

PS: I’m putting together a livestreaming calendar with some (hopefully) exciting and useful-to-you content. So watch this space, and I hope to be talking more about this next week.

Feature photo by mootreelife (Flickr); Super Valu by cogdogblog (Flickr).