Raising PR standards to hit the heights, not budgets

The PRCA is launching a continuous professional development programme - and it need not cost you a penny.

Over the past years ­running both the PRCA and ICCO, I’ve been struck by two unmistakable truths: first, that the UK is one of only two global hubs of PR excellence; and second, that our ­industry could do far more to raise ­professional standards.

I hope that we’re playing our part in addressing both of those issues. Recently, ICCO was awarded the ­accolade of Best International Association at the annual Association ­Excellence Awards, presented here in London. That award reflected our work spreading best practice and business links around the world; showcasing PR creativity at Cannes; celebrating PR ­effectiveness at our own international awards in London.

As the PR community is a global one, organisations such as ICCO have a very valuable role to play in making links between practitioners across the world, and in setting common ­professional and ethical standards.

The launch in early March of PRCA Middle East and North Africa will broaden and deepen those ICCO links yet further. Based in the UK and looking for a partner in any one of 44 countries? We can sort that out.

The second task is a little harder. As an industry, we have commitment to raising professional standards, but no overall framework for doing so.

At the PRCA, we have fought shy over the past decade from creating our own continuous professional development (CPD) programme. At their worst, they are nothing more than money-making machines. But at their best, they can be really effective in ­raising standards and ­professionalism.

We’ve chosen the latter route. PRCA CPD will recognise training from every professional provider. It will recognise that CPD comes in many forms – mentoring and being mentored; producing thought leadership and consuming it; leading industry groups and attending their events; ­giving something back via volunteering and CSR. It will credit ­interaction with many different ­bodies – and that includes PRWeek of course. If you run an internal development programme we will, naturally, validate that too.

My aim is that we will accredit and validate dozens of sources of development – we are not so ­arrogant as to ­believe our courses and events alone have value. And here’s something I hope PRWeek readers will welcome – it will be entirely possible to complete your PRCA CPD programme without ­spending a single pound. CPD should be about raising standards. Not about raising money.

Where now? We are consulting PR Council ­members. We’ll then open it to PRCA members and the whole wider industry. We will launch our UK programme in May. And via ICCO, launch our international ­programme in June.

Our goal is ambitious and simple. We will put CPD within reach for ­everyone in the UK – there will be no ­financial barrier to professional commitment. And then we will do the same internationally. And in doing so, we will continue to drive our industry ­forward. And be proud of doing so.

Francis Ingham is PRCA director-general and ICCO executive director

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