13 top PR learning & skills resources to get you over the CPD finish line

“CPD? I have no budget for training!” or “Learning!?! Do you think I’ve really got time for that! It’s a 24/7 job as it is!” – after five years working at the Institute, these are two of the most common complaints I hear from members telling us they’ve not got the money or time to invest in their own professional development.

As a PR practitioner myself, I’ve often found myself short of time and the budget to spend on more formal learning, but the great thing about the CIPR CPD is that it gives you the opportunity to make the most of ‘quick learning wins’ through recording and reviewing all that knowledge you consume day-in-day out – on top of getting recognition for all your efforts.

So this year, to help get me – and you – over the CPD finish line by midnight on 29 February,  I’ve delved deep into the CPD data and pulled together a list of twelve of the most-used free resources logged by members so far, plus one of my own! Logging your learning from each resource below will net you 5 points.

1. Social media in crisis or issues management

Developed in September, this short six-page primer containing hints and tips on how to utilise social media in a crisis, followed what appeared to be a wave of very public issues management case studies that engulfed the likes of VW and others in 2015.

2. Interactive ethics module

As Ethics is now a compulsory CIPR CPD module – it’s no surprise that the interactive Ethics CPD module ranks highly. Featuring six scenarios, it’s a great way to get to grips with ethical dilemmas you may face day-in-day-out.

If the e-learning module doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, get the 5 points necessary by reading these four articles from Ethics Month in 2014 or buy (sorry!) Patricia J Parson’s CIPR PR in Practice series title ‘Ethics in Public Relations’ (but it will net you 10 points!)

3. Competitions: what you need to know

Early in 2015, Ardi Kolah produced this must-read breakdown of what you need to know if you’re planning on running any competitions, free draws, instant wins, games or lotteries as part of your campaigns. Usefully this guide also includes legal dos and don’ts when it comes to terms and conditions, as well as how not to fall foul of the ASA. I’d also personally recommend Ardi’s book ‘Essential Law for Marketers’, published by Kogan Page.

4. An intro to paid media

No longer just everyone’s favourite Latin American currency, PESO (paid, earned, shared and owned) has been one of the hottest comms trends of the last few years. Paid – in the context of online/digital media – is covered off in extensive detail in this guide with top tips across on social, display and search. It’s ideal learning for anyone looking to enhance their integrated campaigns.

5. Books, books & more books!

Logging learning from CIPR’s own book back catalogue – and custom submissions from popular PR texts by David Meerman Scott and Alex Singleton, amongst many more, have totalled 10 points for lots members so-far in 2015/16. But are there any useful free books that exist to help you with your CIPR CPD?

For social science conscious communicators out there, I reckon you’ll get plenty of key takeaways from John Locke’s foray into the realm of human knowledge, ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’, available for free on Amazon and Google Play. Alternatively, for those of you not keen on 367-pages of 17th century philosophy, there’s always ‘101 Facebook Marketing Tips and Strategies for Small Businesses’, available for free on Kindle.

6. Google Analytics guide

CIPR social media training guru Andrew Smith led the creation of this incredibly useful 14-page guide on Google Analytics gives you insight on how the free-tool can be used as a broad-based measurement platform to help better demonstrate the value of PR and communications activity. Whether or not you’ve crossed that CPD finish line, it’s a must read for comms pros at all levels.

7. Change communication webinar

As a member of staff – and as a PR pro short on time – on-demand learning through webinars was something I pushed the Institute to introduce back in 2013, and over the last few years we’ve now accumulated a bank of 40+ plus expert led presentations. This particular webinar on Change Comms has been widely accessed, and with change being a constant in any organisation, this 45-minute watch will ensure you achieve integrated internal and external comms goals while keeping your key stakeholders on board. Keep an eye-out for an exciting new set of on-demand webinars from the CIPR Training Team in the next few months.

8. Mobile & public relations

In the course of a generation, the PR industry (like many others) has had to move from an analogue and largely static working environment to – from the early/mid-1990s – a digitally-connected mobile world. The pace of change shows little sign of slowing. This 20-page guide published in late 2014 has been ideal for those looking to play-catch up and keep ahead, so they can adapt their communication strategies to incorporate mobile digital channels and content into campaign management.

9. Writing comment articles

Where there was once a limited range of opportunities in national newspapers and magazines, there are now lots of specialist websites that are hungry for content. This much used guide created by Alex Singleton covers top techniques to make sure that yours gets the coverage it deserves. And remember, if the comment article is being delivered as a response – take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard board you press send.

10. SEO & PR

It’s always great to be one-step ahead, and just about every PR industry survey over the last few years have shown that SEO is perceived as being one of the most highly desired skills in PR – especially for junior recruits. And yet it consistently ranks among the bottom of activity carried out by practitioners on a day to day basis. Check out this skills guide creation by Andrew Smith to get skilled-up on the tools, tactics and approaches you can employ to rise up the rankings for your employer and your career.

11. Translation, localisation and transcreation

Puzzled by the title? As was I! But after spending half an hour reading this guide created by Russell Goldsmith and the team at Conversis and conducting further research, I was hooked. Transcreation – one of the three key themes covered here – is the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context and is absolutely essential for non-linguist PRs wishing to understand and have a greater appreciation of their audiences.

12. Using statistics in PR

For decades the thought of a spreadsheet and numbers broke many PRs into a cold sweat. We were the right-brain thinkers – intuitive and creative, whilst the left-brain thinkers — those who are logical and analytical, dealt with the stats. If you still firmly believe in that, then your days floating off into creativity land are numbered, new PR requires a firm grounding in both. For many members, they’ve been getting to grips with how to use statistics effectively, both to achieve day-to-day goals and to contribute overtime to enhanced reputation in this practical dos and don’ts guide.

13. Creating content for millennials

Now for one of my own. SlideShare offers a great pool of free resources on all aspects of learning and development across marcomms and business management. One particular learning goal for me this year was to look at how different audiences consume different forms of media, so after a brief search I found this great 84 slide stack on millennial marketing engagement and strategies for success, produced by BuzzFeed and NewsCred – and it hit the spot perfectly. With plenty of applicable learning outcomes, it was a great custom CPD submission.

Oh – and reading this Medium post on why odd-length BuzzFeed listicles perform better than even ones prompted me to investigate creating millennial content in greater detail. It’s also why there are thirteen items in this list – and hopefully one of the reasons why anyone under 30 at least, has stuck with me to the end!

If you have any questions at all on CIPR CPD, or if you need any support, tweet the team using @CIPR_UK. Alternatively, you can also email Debbie – the CIPR’s CPD Manager.

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