Chartered PR practitioner – a new era for the PR profession
Why you need to employ and contract a Chartered PR practitioner
The PR business is swiftly changing into a profession which requires validated skills and knowledge. There are some of us who are not only striving to keep our continuous professional development rolling, but also trying to set an example, so others may a) benefit and b) follow.
*In September 2015 the CIPR amended the regulations governing Chart.PR status to open up the eligibility for CIPR members to #getChartered with the goal of increasing the number of Chartered PR professionals in public relations from approximately 50 (since its introduction in 2008) to more than 250 over the next 24 months.
This week, I headed down to CIPR in London to participate in the first ever ‘Chartership Day’, which was a pilot for the new Chartered PR Practitioner programme. The programme will move around the UK to ensure it’s accessible to the nations and regions.
I was lucky to be one of the people enlisted on the pilot Chartered Practitioner day, but really luck doesn’t have anything to do with it. The reason I was there was because I was deemed a suitable candidate for sitting the assessments – I am in the middle of my career, I’m a Fellow, I have been committed to CPD for a number of years and I’ve demonstrated my commitment to professionalism.
I previously blogged about my preparation (Top tips for your PR CPD plan) and said I’d do a follow up post about my experience on the day.
I estimate that I spent about two full days preparing for the day (never mind the night before, cramming in more reading and note making over dinner).
We were given a pack which contained information about the timings of the day, how the session would be structured around three areas (strategy, ethics and leadership), reference to two chapters in the Chartered Public Relations book, the code of conduct and finally, sets of questions which guide you through the three areas for discussion.
It was great that the day was discussion-led; I think this is inclusive and also allows candidates to emphasise passion through face-to-face discussion.
Wee tip! The preparation would have been more fluid if I’d read the questions then the chapter, by area. I potentially duplicated my effort by reading the chapter first, then the questions, then back to re-read the chapter.
I also downloaded the CIPR code of conduct to ensure I could paraphrase for our ethics assessment which related to a case study. Our case study was about #sweatygate; when Fuel PR got an account handler to change her name and be used in a fake case study.
The final phase of our day was built around us preparing a two-year CPD plan which we needed to explain and discuss with our colleagues on the day. This required me to think about career plans and for me, self-assessment for skills and knowledge gaps.
I started the hashtag #getChartered because I thought if I was public about my journey to becoming a Chartered Practitioner it might inspire others. Others, including the CIPR, have now caught on, so check it out and read what they have to say too.
*Candidates on Monday’s pilot assessment day were rigorously assessed on their skills, knowledge and competencies in ethics, strategy and leadership by a team of eight expert assessors, led by Paul Noble Found.Chart.PR FCIPR, Partner at Noble Ink, and deputy lead assessor, Emma Leech Found.Chart.PR FCIPR, Director of Marketing & Advancement at Loughborough University.
How the day went
After we met the assessors were split into groups of three and four. I liked the idea of going through the assessments with other people! It was like we could work with each other to cover off everything. My group worked well together.The official criteria said: “Candidates must show a broad knowledge of the context in which the public relations function operates and an ability to relate public relations activities to the wider organisational considerations of clients or employers.”
Our first session was on strategy, followed by ethics and finally leadership. Whilst we mainly stuck to the chapters of the book and the case study, the objective was to quiz us on our own experiences, talking about both positive and challenging situations we’ve been in over our PR careers.
The hour-and-a-half-long sessions were fairly relaxed and they were kept flowing. We got a break between each session which was appreciated!
Our final session was where we split into a different group and we each swopped our CPD plans. Mine was fairly top line as it wasn’t just simple tasks I wanted to complete, they were more chunky and require to be fleshed out once I’ve done research into how I can go about each objective/goal.
We then gathered as a group and heard some funny stories and sound advice from Paul Mylrea, Director of Communications at Cambridge University and former CIPR President. Amongst other things, he said “As long as you do the right thing, you’ll be fine.”
Then, we were presented with our certificates and appropriately finished off with a drinks reception. I realised late on that we were able to invite up to two guests! I asked my PR friend and CIPR board colleague, Eva Maclaine. Eva has been an inspiration and support to me over my two years on the board, and was also one of the original Chartered PR Practitioners who encouraged me to take part.
*The nine new Chartered PR Practitioners are:
- Annette Spencer Chart.PR FCIPR, Interim Communications Lead at Zurich Insurance
- Donna Castle Chart.PR MCIPR, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the Proprietary Association of Great Britain
- John Wilkinson Chart.PR FCIPR, Owner and Managing Director at Wilkinson PR & Communications
- Laura Sutherland Chart.PR FCIPR, Managing Director at Aura PR
- Philip Morgan Chart.PR MCIPR, Deputy Chief Executive at the CIPR
- Rachel Picken Chart.PR MCIPR, Director at MPAD
- Sarah Hall Chart.PR FCIPR, Managing Director at Sarah Hall Consulting
- Stephen Falla Chart.PR FCIPR, Founder and Managing Director at Orchard PR
- Tim Borrett Chart.PR MCIPR, Service Manager – Public Relations at Bristol City Council
The day was not plain sailing as some original Chartered PR Practitioners had feared. It was a different approach, yes, but it still put us through our paces and ensured we were absolutely ready and deserved to be awarded Chartered status. I for one was pleased it was challenging so I felt I had fairly achieved a worthy status.
If you’re considering becoming a Chartered PR practitioner and are eligible, do it, there’s never a ‘better’ time to do it. It’s not for everyone though. Not everyone will pass this assessment day, so make sure you’re ready, or use it as a goal to work towards over the next 24 months!
All that was left was to celebrate!