PRCA gets tough with testing new criteria

All 160 PRCA members will have to undergo a financial and professional assessment by independent examiners within the next two years, the association announced this week.

All 160 PRCA members will have to undergo a financial and

professional assessment by independent examiners within the next two

years, the association announced this week.



Current members will be expelled unless they pass the assessment by the

year 2000, and face re-assessment every two years. The Marketing Quality

Assurance and Det Norske Veritas Quality Assurance bodies, both members

of the UK Accreditation Service, will assess agencies against a new set

of standards, devised by the PRCA after consultation with its

members.



Membership was previously approved by a PRCA committee and the

association’s board, once consultancies had fulfilled a number of

criteria.



The new standards, which were originally proposed by QBO chairman

Quentin Bell during his PRCA chairmanship, have been introduced

following a two-and-a-half year consultation and development period.

Bell’s original proposals have been significantly watered down.



Members will not, as originally proposed, have to spend five per cent of

their payroll on training but must prove they have training and

development plans for all staff, including a formal appraisal system and

training in PR skills.



Bell’s proposal to adopt the ISO9000 quality standard was dropped

because the system was felt to be unsuitable for the consultancy

business.



However, the requirements oblige agencies to introduce formal procedures

for complaints; monitoring service delivery; planning, management and

evaluation of campaigns; and a written business plan. Agencies will also

need to submit three client referees.



PRCA chairman Jackie Elliot a guarantees level of service would add

value to PRCA membership.



Consultancy management standards



The assessment process has been piloted by ten agencies, including

Shandwick, GCI, Hallmark Public Relations and ICAS Public relations.

Agencies failing to achieve the consultancy management standards will be

given three months to try again. The key criteria are for consultancies

to have:



- personal development plans for all staff



- a formal staff appraisal system



- written business plans



- monitoring client satisfaction



- evaluation of advice and service delivery



- a formal complaints procedure



- three client references.



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