LEADER: Training is worth the investment

There's a great irony built into the news we report this week of the major PR component within the Learning and Skills Council's campaign to promote training to consumers and businesses (see Related Stories).

As an industry, PR hasn't exactly embraced the concept of training. Like journalism, it is often regarded as one of those professions where mucking in and making mistakes is the best way to learn. Certainly, on-the-job training has a significant role to play, but there is no doubt that formal training produces far more competent and confident PROs.

Anyone who has ever attended a media training session would agree with this. As our feature on training makes clear, it's a day that can save you from making the kind of career-breaking howler that is forever caught on camera.

As trainer Miranda Lane argues in this week's media analysis, training is only becoming more crucial in the ever-more complex world of financial and corporate PR. In this sector, PROs with ambition are choosing to study for accountancy diplomas in order to match the qualifications held by the audience they are targeting. Most significantly, their employers are supporting them in this, conscious that it can only improve their financial communications.

Although finance is a sector that requires hard knowledge like few other areas of PR, there is no good reason why this level of commitment shouldn't be replicated in other sectors. Why aren't more consumer agency PROs studying for marketing qualifications, for example, to mirror the skills of their clients?

The stumbling block is often a practical one. Staffing has been stretched to the limit after cost-cutting rounds and losing PROs to training days means that others must shoulder extra duties or work is delayed as a result.

Employers also worry that other organisations will reap the benefits by poaching their well-trained PROs. Certainly, the current recruitment frenzy means that this is a risk. But training can also be an opportunity. Being able to offer a comprehensive training programme is the kind of perk that will secure the best PR talent.

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