By Naomi MG Smith.
Like many of you reading this blog, I am proud to be a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). I’ve been working full time in PR since 2018 and a member of the CIPR since late 2019.
Having reflected on my journey, I want to share my experience to help new and existing members alike, make the most out of their membership.
Why the CIPR?
The Institute is the world’s only Royal Chartered body for Public Relations. This in itself was exciting, especially with a global outlook. I knew that I wanted to get involved in every area of the Institute. So I did.
What’s it like?
There was a strong sense of community and I felt it from the moment I joined. I had two goals in mind: become an Accredited Practitioner and volunteer with a committee.
In September 2019, I came across a call for volunteers for the Local Public Services Committee which represents communications professionals in local public services. A few days later, I was on the phone with Mandy Pearse (CIPR President), where she walked me through what the role would entail. Shortly afterward, I was elected and served on the committee last year supporting public sector PR professionals as the pandemic was developing globally.
Pro Tip: From the Channel Islands to the North West, there are 25 volunteer-led regional, national and special interest groups, we have you covered.
I also threw myself enthusiastically into the wonderful world of continuing professional development (CPD). I read PR books, studied for an MBA alternative over two years, and was elected as the Vice Chair of the Knowledge Panel. I also became an Accredited PR Practitioner eight months after joining the Institute.
Now I’m working on becoming a Chartered PR Practitioner, I want to take my assessment within the next five years and CPD is a major part of this journey.
Pro Tip: To become an Accredited Practitioner, you’ll need to complete two cycles of CPD. Once you’ve become an Accredited Practitioner, make sure to keep completing your CPD every year to retain your status.
In January I began my two-year term on CIPR Council, as the youngest member of this cohort. I’m so proud to represent emerging and diverse talent in this capacity, in collaboration with our members, the President and the team at virtual HQ.
The CIPR Council is responsible for delivering the five-year strategy. I attended my first meeting in March and the Council was so welcoming to me and open to hearing my ideas. I want to see more people like me run for Council in the future, representation and visibility are so important for the next generation of PR professionals.
Five tips for success
As you can see, I’ve managed to get involved in many activities to help shape the future of the PR industry. Here are a few tips for making the most out of your CIPR experience:
1 Stay up to date: Follow @CIPR_Global and the team including the CIPR President and other members. It’s a good way to keep up to date with what the Institute is up to, plus it helps you to build your network.
2 Make sure CPD is at the centre of your CIPR journey: You know how they say cash is king, well so is CPD. As PR professionals I believe we are constantly learning, but often we forget to log it as CPD. Remember it counts, make sure to log your 60 points before the end of the CPD year. Before you know it, you’ll be an Accredited PR Practitioner.
3 Map out what you want to get out of your CIPR membership: There’s so much to get involved in, explore the website and think about if you want to volunteer, attend events, and more. Have a plan and make sure to check it quarterly to stay on track.
4 Attend events: Every year the Institute puts on a wide roster of events from Tackling Climate Change to National Conference. Check out the events page and get yourself booked on. CPD points are available for attending certain events too.
5 Support the CIPR by volunteering: The Institute relies on people like me and you to make things a reality. You have a unique opportunity to help shape the industry for the better, whilst developing yourself and gaining new skills. Calls for volunteers can usually be found on the website, in membership emails, and by keeping an eye on the CIPR Twitter feed.
Go for it, you won’t regret it.
Naomi MG Smith is an Account Executive at Westco Communications and was recently listed on PR Week’s 30 under 30.