Image courtesy of flickr user Pete

Chartered PR Practitioner – an assessor’s view

We’re often faced with a serious dilemma: should we invest in ourselves more or should we invest in our clients/employers? Can we get home any awards our agency/employer won? Can we claim full credit for it? Can the myriad of PR and Communications awards out there justify the resources, time and effort we put into the award entry, especially if we don’t win in the end? Could you, as a PR/Communication practitioner be a role model/inspiration for others when very, very few of the awards can be ascribed to you, the person?

And then, how do you differentiate between all of them? Which one is THE ONE that would make you so proud of your achievement and allow you to say to yourself: “That’s it! I’ve done it!”?

Last week I turned to my Twitter community and asked how many PR/Communications/Media awards we are aware of. It’s frightening how many are already there and, especially, how many are likely to come up in future. Below, thanks to @s_morar @beeandie @MattSilverPR, @RobYeldham, @GoooRooo and @PR_PRIME, I’ve chosen to enumerate just some of those that, more or less, we’ve all heard of:

  1. AMEC International Communication Effectiveness Awards
  2. ARF David Ogilvy Awards
  3. Best for PR
  4. Campaign Big Awards
  5. Campaign Media Awards
  6. Cannes Lions
  7. CEB Internal Communications Awards
  8. CIPR #Insidestory Awards
  9. CIPR Excellence Awards
  10. CIPR PRide Awards
  11. Communique
  12. Corpcomms Awards
  13. CorpComms DigiAwards
  14. Facebook Awards
  15. Festival of Media Global Awards
  16. Fresh PR Awards
  17. Gorkana Suzy Spirit
  18. Holmes Report Sabres
  19. IABC Gold Quill Awards (for Business Communication)
  20. Institute of Internal Communication Awards (IoIC)
  21. Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) ICon Awards
  22. Internal Communications Brilliance Awards
  23. Internationalist Awards for Innovation in Media
  24. IPA Effectiveness Awards
  25. IPRA Golden World Awards for Excellence
  26. Marketing and PR Brilliance Awards
  27. Media Week Awards
  28. Online Business & Retail PR
  29. PR Daily’s Digital PR & Social Media Awards
  30. PR News’ Digital PR Awards
  31. PR News Platinum PR Awards
  32. PR World Awards
  33. PRCA Awards
  34. PRmoment Awards
  35. PRWeek Awards
  36. PRWeek Global Awards
  37. Public Relations and Marketing Excellence Awards
  38. Public Service Communications Awards
  39. Ragan & PR Daily’s Ace Awards (Awarding Communication Excellence)
  40. Ragan & PR Daily’s Media Relations Award
  41. Ragan’s Employee Communications Awards
  42. Ragan’s PR Daily Awards
  43. The Communicator Awards
  44. The Drum Content Awards
  45. The Peer Awards for Communicating Excellence
  46. The PRCA DARE Awards
  47. The UnAwards
  48. TUC Comms Awards
  49. UK Agency Awards

If I were to ask you – the practitioner – what is the competitive advantage of one over the other, perhaps it won’t be easy for you to answer. If I asked you what is THE one award you’d like to get that would do it for you, perhaps you won’t be able to answer that either.

There are too many awards out there to help us stand out as an individual – but there is only ONE professional status award that will help you do that: becoming a Chartered Practitioner.

Regardless which agency you work for or whether you’re an in-house or independent practitioner, the Chartered Status stays with you until the day you either let your CIPR membership lapse, are no longer interested in CPD or, simply, leave the PR profession.

There have been several opinion pieces written by those who have gone through the Chartered process – Emily, Lindsey, Amanda can all give you a flavour of what their experience was like during the Assessment Day, while Stephen will provide you with an insight as to why Chartered status is a very important step forward towards professionalising PR.

What you have not read yet and, highly likely, not heard yet from anyone, is what a Chartered Status Assessor expects from you. Because I strongly believe that everyone should prove to himself/herself that they can do it, that they can be among the best PR practitioners in the world and that they perfectly understand the importance of Strategy, Ethics and Leadership in PR, I am going to provide you with my expectations of you, so that the Chartered Assessment Day is no longer shrouded in mystery and, perhaps, unwarranted fear:

  • Your seniority (as in job position), membership grade, chairmanship/fellowship of CIPR do not matter; you are there to prove to me that you are very comfortable with all aspects of Strategy/Ethics/Leadership in PR
  • The cohort you are in (no more than 5 in total) is not your stage: your colleagues are there, just as you are, to demonstrate to us that you can interrogate, discuss and debate professional issues in an accurate, respectful and highly knowledgeable manner
  • The materials you are given to study are indicative and they usually serve as ice-breakers. Professional jargon, quotes from measurement guides or any other pitching techniques that you are using with your clients are not going to cut it: you need to demonstrate, especially during the Strategy Assessment, that you have not only though about “today” and “now” but also about “tomorrow” and “then”
  • Speaking too much (trying to overshadow your peers) or speaking too little will not work in your favour: in 1.5 hrs, you need to demonstrate to us that you are worthy of the highest PR professional designation, that you can be a role model for the PR profession, and that you will do all the other Chartered practitioners honour.
  • Think about each of the three sessions as a discussion with a prospective Client: I am the Client and you need to demonstrate to me that you are the best candidate I have ever interviewed, that you understand the complexity of my problem, that I can fully rely on your advice (evidence based), that you have taken into consideration all the potential risks and issues surrounding the task and that I can be comfortable that, no matter what, you will always provide me with the best advice.

The Chartered Status for the Public Relations is unique to CIPR and no other PR association, service provider or academic institution in the world can grant it – only CIPR can.

In the near future, just as companies employ the services of a Chartered Accountant/Architect/Engineer because they provide that guarantee of knowledge and professional ethics, the same will happen with the Chartered status for Public Relations. It will be a measurement of credibility, performance and professionalism for those PR services users: when an international crisis looms, when reputational issues are at stake, when behaviours and practices come under spotlight, the Chartered Practitioner will be the one expected to provide his/her best advice, underpinned by an impeccable professional record.

It was this uniqueness that has attracted me to apply for my Chartered status 5-years-ago (I’m a Founding Chartered Practitioner). I took mine as a challenge, not as a Client/peer recognition: I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it and that I have got what it takes. It took me almost 2 years to get it: a long Statement of Experience, an academic paper of 5,000 words and a palm-sweating interview with 2 assessors that lasted almost 2 hours.

The Chartered process of today is much more streamlined to meet the time restrictions of the candidates – what has not changed (and this I know for a fact) is the robustness of the assessment. The current pass rate is of 80% and the assessors provide all candidates with plenty of opportunities to present their arguments.

I’ve been a Chartered Status Assessor for over a year now and had the opportunity to assess some amazing practitioners, individuals who do us all honour, such as Sarah Hall, John Wilkinson, Laura Sutherland, Lindsey Collumbell, Chris Holly, Nicola Bothwell, Chris Love and many others. No matter what the future holds for them and no matter who they will be working for, there titles cannot be “claimed” by anyone nor can they be transferred to anyone: the “Chart.PR” designation is theirs forever.

You can join us in our journey towards making PR a credible and professional standards based occupation. I haven’t won any PR Awards, I am not a Fellow or President of CIPR, I have not won any medals – but I am immensely proud that I am a Founding Chartered PR Practitioner because, to be one, I had to demonstrate that I have got what it takes to reach the summit of professional recognition and achievement in Public Relations. You can do it, too.

Image courtesy of flickr user Pete

  1. Mine is in two weeks. Nervous, but really looking forward to testing myself.
    Thanks for the advice. All help gratefully accepted. 🙂

    1. Dear Neil,

      I’m very pleased you found the advice useful. There’s no need to be nervous – the assessors are very understanding and you should be provided with plenty of opportunity to express your views and make your arguments.
      It’s a test and, if you wish, an evaluation of your abilities, competency and character to serve as an example and role model for all our colleagues and clients alike.

      Good-luck, be yourself, present clear arguments and you will succeed!


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