By Martin Flegg.
Although it is now well over four years ago, I still vividly remember the events which took place in my life on 13 October 2017.
It was the day that I got CIPR Chartered.
I recall sitting outside the assessment venue on that morning, my legs wobbling like jelly and my nerves jangling, trying to quell my inner dissonance about whether I was a good enough PR practitioner to go in and participate.
I eventually made it over the threshold and threw myself into the group discussions with an almost gung-ho, nothing ventured, nothing gained attitude. I think this is probably what got me through the emotional side of the rollercoaster that the day became, as we debated PR leadership, strategy and ethics.
I was glad I had done some preparation and planning for what I might contribute to the discussions, even though I didn’t really know what eventualities I was planning for but, as they say, ‘a failure to plan, is a plan to fail’. It was certainly a day where I had to think on my feet and the reading, preparation and planning I had done, definitely helped with that.
Four and a half years on, I couldn’t tell you exactly what words I contributed that day, although whatever I said must have hit the spot with the assessors. My overarching feelings and recollections are ones of collaboration, connection, empathy and shared experience with my fellow participants and the assessors. I am still in contact with some of them, and the opportunity to network and work with other PR practitioners was definitely a highlight of the day.
Recalling the events of my assessment day, and the feelings that remain, makes me think about the potential power of our growing chartered collective. I think I was probably number 207 to get chartered that day, and the numbers grow with each assessment day that passes. There are now 456 chartered practitioners, but we need more of us to take the plunge and get chartered too.
Why? Well, the uncomfortable truth at the moment is that anyone can claim to be a professional PR practitioner and also say that they are good at it. We know that some are not, and that’s what gets PR a bad rap and reputation.
It seems unlikely that there will ever be any formal barriers to entry established for getting into the PR profession to help raise standards. Which means it’s going to be up to us as a collective, working together, to tip the balance towards PR being recognised by society more generally as a positive and desirable profession which drives beneficial outcomes. To help tip the balance, I think that more of us working in PR need to be members of relevant professional bodies, qualified, chartered and engaging in meaningful continuous professional development. There also needs to be a greater demand for practitioners with these attributes.
With many more PR practitioners getting chartered since I did, it feels like we are further along the road towards satisfying the supply side of the supply and demand equation. But we should also be keeping an eye on the demand side too. Getting this right is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ conundrum, but we need to keep chipping away at both sides of the equation to make progress.
I think that there are two things our growing chartered collective can do to address both sides of the equation. By actively encouraging and supporting others in the profession to get chartered too, and to also do whatever we can to influence employers, hiring managers, clients and organisational leaders to look for this attribute, and others, which define someone as a true PR professional.
Getting chartered doesn’t stop with success at the assessment day, it confers a responsibility to help and persuade others to do the same and to change attitudes more broadly about what PR is for, and what it can do for society.
This should be easy for those of us working in PR, right? After all, influence is the ultimate power of our collective.
Find out more about CIPR Chartership.
Martin Flegg is the owner and founder of The IC Citizen