‘Chartered Practitioner’ hasn’t reached critical mass, but a director-level replacement is needed

DESPITE a huge push over the past couple of years, the CIPR’s Chartered PR Practitioner status for senior practitioners has failed to reach more than around 50 people. It’s something that has failed to excite those in the business world in senior corporate communication roles. (Personally, I decided to study for the CIPR’s Diploma in Crisis Communication, which involves writing a much longer piece of work and has the benefit of sounding good on the CV.)

Now it seems likely that the Chartered PR Practitioner label is to be fundamentally shifted towards being a more junior status.

Its biggest difficulty in its current guise is that the name just doesn’t imply senior, years-of-experience status. Indeed, to an outsider, being a Chartered PR Practitioner doesn’t sound different to being a Member of a Chartered Institute. Indeed, in other professions, the Chartered status is something that newer professionals can gain, rather than those who have years of experience. For example, a member (MRICS) of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is by definition a Chartered Surveyor, not after decades of experience.

So a move to make the Chartered PR Practitioner correspond more closely with what happens in other professions would be an understandable move – as long as two things happen. Firstly, those who’ve spent the cash and put in an extensive amount of time to become Chartered Practitioners need to be compensated in some way – perhaps with a new “gong” in addition to retaining Chartered Practitioner status. People should be given the option of a refund.

Secondly, there does need to be something aimed at a experienced practitioners which helps them show their level of competence. Some form of Advanced Diploma in Directing Corporate Communication, for example. We should be very wary of watering down the Chartered Practitioner status and not replacing it with something else.

Posted By: Alex Singleton, On: July 29th, 2015, In Categories: CIPR

Recognising diversity is good for brands, says Aviva’s Group Brand Director

Posted By: Alex Singleton, On: July 28th, 2015, In Categories: Diversity

To work with newspaper letters pages requires PR practitioners to understand their ethos

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THE LETTERS PAGE can be one of the most-read parts of a publication. That’s because readers see it as their page – one where they get to express their opinions. It is, therefore, a valuable property for public relations consultants.

The problem for PR people is that letters editors of newspapers prefer letters from normal readers, and most of the letters sent by PR flacks are worthless. But there are still plenty of letters published in the press from companies and charities, and if you can avoid sending a letter that sounds like a press release, you have a good chance of getting published.

For a letter to be printed, the writer needs to get into the spirit of a letters page. It needs to be written as you would speak, not how a committee of jargon-lovers would write it. A letter saying that the government’s criteria for approving drugs on the NHS is harming drug companies’ profits is a selfinterested letter. Letters editors are going to wonder how much the readers will care.

The letter would be much more appealing if it said that “your readers who are concerned about getting the best treatment” should be worried that increased government rationing is going to stop them getting the latest drugs.

This is basically the same point, but from a more reader-friendly direction.

Infuriatingly, many letters sent by bad PR companies seem to be no more than an attempt to tick boxes on their to-do lists, rather than a genuine attempt to get a letter printed. They read like recycled press releases – and probably are.

So it is vital to write the letter with the aim of informing readers, rather than as an attempt to get free publicity. Writing the letter simply to get the chief executive’s name in print is a bad motivation, because you will most likely write a bad letter. However, genuinely trying to help out the readers will lead to good publicity.

The lack of naked self-interest is why charities do very well at getting their letters printed, whereas companies are often less successful, unless they are responding to a City story referencing them.

This post is based on an extract from The PR Masterclass (out now from Wiley)

Posted By: Alex Singleton, On: July 27th, 2015, In Categories: Media relations

‘There are great challenges for people to come out when they’re in business’

IN AN insightful discussion, Sir Martin Sorrell of the public relations and marketing group WPP asks Lord Browne about the issue of sexuality in business and the challenges for coming out at work.

Posted By: Alex Singleton, On: July 26th, 2015, In Categories: Diversity

Plans are afoot for a gay PR network

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I HAVE been genuinely amazed by the response to my PRWeek article on the need for a support network for gay PR practitioners. Apart from a Tweet by former CIPR board member Sarah Hall, there has been almost nothing on Twitter about it – people can be wary of outing themselves so publicly. But my email inbox has been overflowing with messages from people who found the message encouraging. One person even picked up the phone to discuss it.

Plans are afoot to establish a network for gay people in PR and marketing communications roles. I’ll keep you updated.

Posted By: Alex Singleton, On: July 25th, 2015, In Categories: Diversity