With high-level figures from disciplines such as journalism and digital marketing moving straight into senior PR positions, agencies and industry bodies are having to rethink the criteria that define the industry and career success within it.
The CIPR has announced that it is modernising its membership grades to reflect this, by extending full membership to entrants from marketing, journalism, advertising and digital.
It is also shortening the time period required for professionals to have worked in PR before they can become a full member from between six and ten years to two.
The news follows a fourmonth consultation by the CIPR's governing council.
CIPR chief executive Jane Wilson explained that 'civil service-style membership'
was no guarantee of quality: 'That's not a good place to be in the 21st century - structures are more horizontal.
Go to the PRWeek Awards and there are agency heads under the age of 30. The time-serve model was a broken one and had to be looked at.'
Wilson revealed that as comms director at Capital Radio, she applied for CIPR membership and was told she did not have enough experience.
She also pointed to Portland partner and former Sun political editor George Pascoe Watson, who previously could not become a member.
'We're creating a proper gateway for people joining the industry and will count their highly relevant experience,' added Wilson.
The news comes at the same time as Lexis PR announced that it is dropping the 'PR' in its name and repositioning itself with the tagline 'The Recommendation Agency', reflecting the more varied nature of what the agency does.
As part of the change, Lexis has appointed film director and digital expert Claire Eades as head of filmed content, joining from Marmalade Film & Media, where she was MD.
Eades directed the award-winning NHS Leicester campaign about teenage pregnancy and relationships.
CEO Jason Gallucci said that 'any agency that is stuck in print media does not have a long future'.
HOW I SEE IT
Stephen Waddington, MD, Speed Communications
The issue is relevancy at a time when the industry is changing so fast. The PR industry is no longer stuck to media relations. I thought the CIPR should have gone even further and removed all barriers to entry, but this is a good step along the road to that.
Erin Portsmouth, Comms and engagement lead, NHS Trafford
These changes are overdue. The CIPR needs to reflect the fact that excellence in practice is not exclusively found among people with long service in the profession. The emphasis on professional development and the vast support for members shows the CIPR is prepared to put its money where its mouth is.
9,493 Current number of CIPR members across all grades
2,600 Associate and affiliate members who are now eligible for an upgrade
80 Percentage of members who will be MCIPR grade after review
3,800 Members who have participated in professional development activities
Affiliates, associates and members all have new criteria after membership shake-up