Back to School?

The results of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) State of the Profession Survey for 2013/2014 revealed some interesting results. Of course there was a lot about salaries and redundancies, as well as the issues of concern to both members and non-members. One element stood out for me and that was the result that 94 per cent of respondents said that PR being considered a profession was important to them, and in the same report one in three people said the biggest challenge to PR in the next five years will be an expanding skill set required of them.

However, there were also indications that people struggled to get to grips with the professional ambition and there was a low-level of focus on academic or professional qualifications. So why is that? What is stopping communication professionals from developing themselves and keeping themselves very employable?

There are so many ways that you can get involved in training and development without having to commit to expensive and time-consuming courses. With the growth of MOOCs (massive open online courses) there is a chance to dip into a wide range of subjects that have an impact on communication from psychology and anthropology through to the growth of Google and leadership. Taking advantage of them just requires logging on and investing a bit of time and best of all for cash-strapped PR professionals most of them are free.

Technology has brought some great opportunities from being able to network through Twitter, Facebook and Google+ through to taking advantage of webinars and other discussion forums. I regularly participate in #commschat on Monday night at 8pm (GMT) on Twitter which has been a great way to learn about new things and share knowledge.

Of course for CIPR or PRCA members there are lots of training opportunities that exists. I have taken part in the CIPR continuous professional development scheme for more than 10 years and it has been a great way to focus my mind on what I want to achieve and how I need to develop. All it has required is an investment of time and the rest is available through the Internet and by getting involved in some of the local CIPR activities.

With all this available why are people not taking advantage? Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day activities of surviving, working, making ends meet and also trying to have a bit of rest and relaxation that we fail to think about how to invest in ourselves. In these challenging years where finding work is cut-throat it is short-sighted for us not to ensure we are learning and developing ourselves.

Crisis comms, FCIPR. FPRCA, PRCA trainer, Chartered Assessor. Former PRCA Council chair. Women in PR ambassador.

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