Public relations is a profession and the people carrying out public relations work should think of themselves and act as professionals. Obtaining Chartered status is a public demonstration of that.
Every profession has recognised standards for the work its practitioners do and for the level of advice and guidance they provide. This is why you place trust in a chartered accountant, surveyor or financial planner – and should do the same with a Chartered PR practitioner.
Going through the rigour of assessment to achieve chartered status as a mark of excellence has been long-established in some professions, but when I became chartered in 2011 there were only about 40 Chartered PR practitioners. Today there are more than 200 and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is working hard to encourage more PR people to embrace this recognition.
At the point of becoming chartered, I’d worked in PR for 14 years. In that time, I’d both witnessed and been part of some excellent public relations campaigns – both B2B and B2C – for a variety of well-known companies. However, neither I nor any of my colleagues were chartered and – to my knowledge – there were no chartered practitioners working in agencies in Manchester or the North West of England.
PR and protecting reputation
With the level of responsibility clients give PR people to protect and enhance their corporate reputations and support the growth and prosperity of their businesses or organisations, it felt right to offer another level of confidence and guarantee when providing consultancy advice and services.
Becoming chartered isn’t just a one-off commitment to submitting a dissertation and facing a gruelling panel interview with existing chartered practitioners. It involves completing continuing professional development activities every year. And that commitment to CPD means having to remain as current as possible in knowledge and skills – a serious challenge in a fast and ever-changing media and communications environment.
Chartered status and ethical communications
Carrying chartered status also leads – in my opinion – to a greater, self-imposed awareness of the ethics of what PR people do at any point in their engagement with clients, the outside world and their commitment to delivering the truth. The importance of ethical communications – and the potentially-serious impact of unethical communications – is brought into sharp focus by what has happened in the post-European Referendum UK and Trumpian USA.
In less grandiose terms, I think chartered status is about demonstrating an on-going dedication to providing sound advice, high quality work and accountability. The public relations profession needs to be mindful of its own PR; chartered status is one, clear way of doing this.