Take responsibility for your own development

The days are gone when you could sit back and wait to be trained. CIPR senior policy and PR officer Andy Ross advises you to get ahead by planning your own training.

As organisations seek a competitive edge in a continually evolving comms landscape, employees who use their own initiative to showcase their professional standards by studying a professional PR qualification in 2014 can flourish in a thriving job market.

Whether you are taking your first career steps, or looking to develop your strategic comms management skills, studying for a professional qualification can help you develop your skills and knowledge and provide real benefit to you and your business.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations offers the only industry-recognised public relations qualifications at foundation, advanced certificate and diploma level, as well as an array of specialist short courses in internal communications, public affairs and crisis communications.

The 2013 CIPR Qualifications Graduate Survey found that within a year of graduating from a professional PR qualification, students gained confidence and enthusiasm, received greater recognition from colleagues, clients and their employer, and in one third of cases sealed a pay rise or promotion.

"If you’re smart you’ll have a positive attitude to lifelong learning and see the dramatic changes that are affecting our industry as an opportunity," says Stephen Waddington, CIPR president and EMEA social and digital media director at Ketchum. "If you don’t, at best it will limit your future employment prospects, at worst you’ll be out of a job. I can show a direct and ongoing correlation between my skills and my income throughout my career. There is no clearer value in committing to your own professional development."

Flagship qualification

The CIPR diploma is benchmarked to the teaching and assessment standards of a postgraduate course and is globally recognised as a flagship professional qualification, with recent graduates coming from as far and wide as Australia, the Middle East and West Africa.

Available online or face-to-face at study centres nationwide and overseas, the diploma bridges the gap between comms and management theory and the practical tools and techniques demanded by employers, covering everything from social media to measurement and evaluation, to issues and crisis management.

"Different courses carry a different currency. Courses in measuring effectiveness of campaigns, budgeting, ROI, owned, earned and paid media and social media are highly valued in the current market," comments Amanda Fone, managing partner of recruitment agency f1. "Also, anyone who is serious about their comms career has to be able to evidence a commitment to CPD. One of the questions that we ask candidates is how much of their salary they would be prepared to invest in their own ongoing learning and development. And then we ask them to tell us about the last self-paid training course they attended, or qualification they achieved."

For employers, such as Chris Gape, director at Cobb PR, whose junior account executive Amy Simmons recently completed the CIPR advanced certificate, the benefit of having an employee study a professional qualification has produced immediate results for the business (see panel, top right).

CIPR qualifications

- Foundation award in public relations
- Advanced certificate in public relations
- Diploma in public relations
- Internal communications certificate
- Internal communications diploma
- Public affairs diploma
- Crisis communications (response) diploma

"Amy’s qualification has given her a more rounded and complete view of PR, particularly the importance of strategic thinking. Her appreciation of this imperative was recognised only very recently when a campaign that she worked on for East Sussex County Council promoting superfast broadband won a Gold Award in the CIPR Home Counties South PRide Awards. In Amy’s two years at Cobb PR she has made a really significant contribution and I’ve no doubt that in the longer term this professional qualification will help ensure she continues to thrive with us."

Join more than 1,200 PR professionals who have graduated with a CIPR qualification in the past two years by committing to your professional development in 2014. Apply online today.

Find out more at cipr.co.uk/qualifications

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