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
Membership was previously approved by a PRCA committee and the
association’s board, once consultancies had fulfilled a number of
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
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
- 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.