Anyone can call themselves a PR consultant. There are agencies where nobody has ever received any training about PR, and where skill levels are abysmal. One PR consultant at a small agency quite brazenly told me: “I’m not actually any good at doing PR, but I’m very good at getting business.”
Sadly, this is not just limited to micro-agencies. A lack of learning also permeates some larger agencies. Why else is there such an obsession with getting junior staff to “sell in stories” – a euphemism for annoying journalists with bad material? This occurs, not because it is effective, but because the more senior staff were forced to do this in previous years. As I explain in my book, The PR Masterclass, this – as it is commonly practiced – is largely counterproductive. Telephone calls to journalists need to deliver value to the journalist, rather than simply ask: “Did you get my press release?”
Anyway, the President-Elect of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Stephen Waddington, has argued that so-called “continuing professional development” needs to have more significance in the industry. And he’s right.
Employers (across all sectors) spent £1,775 per employee on training in 2011. And in some PR teams that’s easily met or exceeded. The challenge for the PR industry, which frequently talks about the need to raise its own reputation, is the encourage proper and relevant training across the board.