The Chartered PR Practitioner Q&A: Richard Flynn on excellence

One of my commitments as CIPR President was to promote the value of learning and development as a foundation for professionalism.

Throughout the year I’m going to blog interviews with practitioners that have achieved Chartered PR Practitioner status to understand their motivation and perspective on the profession.

The Chartered Practitioner qualification is pitched by the CIPR as “a benchmark for those working at a senior level and a ‘gold standard’ to which all PR practitioners should strive to reach.” It consists of an initial questionnaire on your career, a paper and formal interview.

Richard Flynn explored the relevancy of Grunig’s Excellence study in modern public relations practice. This was similar to the topic that I explored in my own paper.

richard-flynnWho are you and what’s your day job?

I am a seasoned Public Relations practitioner who has worked at all levels in a variety of public sector organisations. My day job is as a Communications Manager within a scientific and politically sensitive environment.

What’s the greatest opportunity for the public relations profession?

Without doubt it is the opportunity to take full advantage of all of the new communications tools available to us thanks to new technologies. I think the opportunity to communicate directly with individuals without the need for intermediaries is ground breaking. It also gives us a real chance to engage in dialogue and to show that we are adapting to consumers’ needs.

Why did you apply for Chartered PR Practitioner status?

The Chartered Practitioner status is something the industry has striven to achieve for decades and I wanted to show my support for it. We practitioners needed to have something on which others can gauge our experience and skills.

How did you find the assessment process?

Challenging in a very positive way. Having to do some research at Stage 2 and submit a semi-academic paper was a great opportunity to catch up with the latest academic thinking. I found the final interview was a great opportunity to demonstrate how passionately I feel about my profession.

What was the topic of your paper and what did you learn?

The topic for my paper was: Is Excellence in Public Relations beyond our reach?

The paper explored whether there is any evidence today that we Public Relations Practitioners are achieving or are striving to achieve the concept of excellent practice based on the model developed by David Dozier with James and Larissa Grunig in 1995.

I researched the evidence in the CIPR benchmark surveys and questioned whether these activities meet the criteria of Excellence. I also drew on commentaries by industry leaders and examined whether they suggest an approach towards excellence.

The CIPR surveys and the academics agree that Public Relations is a wide ranging function with practitioners operating within the four of models of practice.

What I learned was that there is evidence that moving away from reliance on media relations and opening conversations with stakeholder groups is valuable. The Excellence model of Public Relations practice is therefore as relevant today as when it was first suggested. It is more achievable today thanks to new media.

Audiences are more interested in the way an organisation behaves rather than what it says or what is reported about it in occasional articles in the media. We need to ensure the new media is used to have a conversation with stakeholders and not for posting propaganda.

Further information

You can connect with Richard via LinkedIn, and if you’re interested in further information about learning and development please check the CIPR website.

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Professional advisor for agencies and communication teams, Wadds Inc. Author: #brandvandals, Exploring PR and Management Communication. #PRstack, Share This, and others. Visiting Professor, Newcastle University.

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