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Becoming an SMPS Fellow – Achieving the Triple Crown

You took the step of becoming a member of SMPS. You began attending events and may have joined a committee. You decided you wanted to learn more and hit the books to obtain your CPSM credential. Years have passed, and you continue to work hard and add value to SMPS and your organization. Then, with your years of experience, exceptional contributions to SMPS, the AEC marketing profession, and the success of your organization, you learn you have become eligible to achieve the society’s largest accolade, becoming a Fellow. You’ve gone from Member to CPSM and now possibly to Fellow; you can wear the Triple Crown.

Becoming a Fellow (FSMPS) is the most esteemed level you can achieve in SMPS and within the AEC industry. Fellows serve as a revered resource at the chapter, regional, and society levels and are called upon to provide insight, ideas, programs, and mentoring to other members. To qualify to become a Fellow, one must first become a CPSM, which has its own set of qualifications.

Some background: Nationally, we currently have 971 CPSMs, which is 14% of the total membership (Boston has 33 CPSMs). Fellows are a much smaller pool. Nationwide, there are 103 Fellows of which nine are SMPS Boston members. The comprehensive set of qualifications and achievement standards keep the Fellows candidacy to knighthood capped at no more than 5% of the total SMPS membership nationally.

Although the deadline to submit Fellows applications just passed on April 29th, those who are eligible or will soon be eligible, can learn a lot from other Fellows who have been through the process. With some time to prepare, knowing what is required to develop a strong application that will pass muster is key.

The Boston Chapter recently held a Learning Dinner for CPSMs to have the opportunity to engage with and share insight from our chapter’s Fellows. Fellows, Kate Brannelly, FSMPS, CPSM, and David Easterbrooks, FSMPS, CPSM, shared their experiences and best practices regarding the Fellows Application process.

Kate shared important facts about the eligibility to submit:

  • Possess 15 years of marketing/BD experience in the AEC Industry
  • Be an active SMPS member for at least 10 consecutive years
  • Have held a current CPSM certification for at least 5 years

She also stressed that specific areas of experience, such as mentoring others within the profession is an important requirement of the application that must be supplemented by documentation from the mentees. This includes not only mentoring people in our industry, but also seeking out Fellows who can mentor you! You will need to obtain several endorsement and testimonial letters to complete your application. You will need letters from someone you mentored, one of your chapter leaders, four SMPS members and two SMPS Fellows. Building these relationships early in the application process will make the request for those letters much easier.

David shared other valuable tips including:

  • Keep a running bio that chronicles everything you do for SMPS (include ALL committee work, leadership roles, presentations, major conferences attended, etc.) It’s tough to recreate this a few years down the road.
  • Write an article for Marketer or other relevant publications.
  • Present, co-present, or join a panel for a program at SMPS, BSA, IFMA, LMA, etc. Judges will want to see that you are helping others become better marketers/BD professionals, and it is a plus if you can take the message to people outside SMPS.

Those who attended the dinner learned some specifics of gaps they needed to fill in order to present the best application possible to their panel of peers (the Fellows Jury) who evaluate each application individually.

Becoming an SMPS Fellow is an elite honor-and one that will make you stand out in the AEC industry and among your peers. It is your Triple Crown. It takes a consistent effort to get to that finish line. Wear it proudly.

Don’t forget SMPS Boston offers scholarships which cover the Fellows application fee.

For more information about the Fellows qualification and application or the CPSM certification, please contact Karyn Tirabassi at


Karyn Tirabassi is the Director of the SMPS Boston CPSM Committee and a Market Development Representative at eClinical Solutions.

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