The Public Relations Profession lacks credibility within the USA. Their credibility has been tarnished due to claims of propaganda and deceit. How can the PRSA generate and restore more credibility for the PR profession? I have devised a plan that cracks down on the Public Relations industry by enforcing the PRSA’s code of ethics and emphasizing accreditation.
Output- Offer more incentive for PR professionals to become accredited through the PRSA by December 2010
Outcome-To increase accreditation among PR professionals in the USA by 40% by December 2010
Output-Generate a strong emphasis and importance on the PRSA’s code of ethics by taking harsher action against violators. Encourage and inform employers of these new rules by December 2010
Audience: We will target all PR professionals and the Firms they work for in the USA.
Strategy 1:Build awareness of PR professional’s lack of credibility
Tactics-(1) Secure a four-page cover story in PR week’s monthly newsletter about the stigma of PR professionals and the consequences a harmful reputation can have. (2) Secure other features in major publications, such as AD week, The Washington Post, and The New York Times offsetting this negative with success stories within the industry i.e.: turn PR professionals from villains into heroes.
Strategy 2: Include education institutes in the promotion of accreditation.
Tactics: (1) Get top University’s, communications schools, involved in the value of accreditation and offer discounted rates to upcoming graduates.(3) Establish step-by-step instructions of the PRSA’s accreditation process to print out on flyers that the PRSA can distribute to Universities and their students.
Strategy 3: Invite PRSA accredited practitioners in upcoming events and conferences.
Tactics: (1) Exclusively plan and invite accredited professionals to an event and educational conference located in multiple locations over the country.
Strategy 4: Strictly enforce the PRSA’s code of ethics
Tactics: (1) Inform PR practitioners of the changes. (2) Try to pass laws for legal punishment if this code is violated.
*The plan would also include a calendar, budget, and an evaluation to analyze results after it had been accomplished.
Why This Plan Will Work:
This Plan will be successful in creating more credibility for public relations because the more people that earn accreditation will result in higher standards in the PR world. This will eventually improve the reputation of PR professionals and improve their overall credibility. If the PRSA takes harsher action against violators it will show the public there is some form of regulation and therefore, it would be less likely to read untrue news stories or be confronted with propaganda. Self-regulation within this industry has done nothing to give it a backbone. The PRSA is the best form of regulation this industry has and needs to shed light on the honest practitioners and humiliate the practitioners who are spoiling the reputation of this profession.
Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is a voluntary certification earned by practitioners from a national organization such as The Pubic Relations Society of America (PRSA). This certification demonstrates that they are committed to strict ethical values, enhancing the profession, and a desire to succeed. Its purpose is to identify and unify those who have shown broad knowledge, experience, and solid judgment in the field.
The value of earning APR status :
The value of accreditation does not involve a guaranteed job or higher pay, but what PR practitioners learn while earning their accreditation could result in just that.
“PR has a PR problem”
The public relations field does not have the best reputation. There has been plenty of PR campaigns that illustrate questionable ethics and deceptive practices, which in the end hurt the client as well as the PR organization. A good public service career comparison could be to lawyers, who have far from a respectable stigma. How would you feel about them if they had not passed the BAR exam and were not qualified professionals under standards set by a higher organization? Obviously this licensing is not required for PR practitioners to practice public relations, but in a field where personal values and morals can be compromised, it is reassuring to know there are accreditation programs that can provide reference to a PR practitioner’s knowledge and character. Or in other words, bring professionalism into an industry that can be considered less than professional.
Public Relations is not considered a licensed “profession” in the same sense as health care workers and lawyers, but accreditation programs are the major effort to improve standards and professionalism around the world.
If more PR practitioners go through the process to earn their accreditation, it will strengthen the public’s trust in the profession. Today only 5,000 practitioners have earned APR status.
3 ways PRSA can make accreditation more important to business leaders:
1. Show PR organizations ways that lack of professionalism can harm their organization, their client, or the publics trust in the profession. By providing real life examples of harmful incidents and then posting the stories weekly on PRSA’s website or they could be spoken about at meetings. Then reiterating the fact that these incidents would be less likely to happen if business leaders hire APR certified PR professionals over non certified applicants.
2. Make it a requirement to write APR after a signature or title. For example signing your name with CPA or MD displayed. Display the title with pride, so clients and others can see it. This will stir up more competition in the work place and perhaps make clients wonder who is the better PR practitioner.
3. The PRSA could offer special events for APR holders only. Providing networking opportunities, sweepstakes, scholarships, and just opening doors in general. Eventually other PR practitioners will want to find out what special opportunities they are missing out on.
The 5 essential skills and abilities a PR practitioner must have (no matter what area of PR they decided to pursue) to succeed are: excellent writing skills, research ability, planning expertise, problem-solving ability, and business/economics competence.
1. Writing skills are important in public relations because a pr practitioners writing is what will formerly represent their client or company in mot cases. Whether it is though a news release, press release, or countless others, these documents have to get through gatekeepers. That makes it is vital that the pr professional can put information and ideas onto paper clearly and concisely. Poor spelling, grammar, and sloppy sentence structure will not convey a positive impact on the reader therefore will not convey a positive view of the client or company.
2. Research Ability is crucial because pr practitioners have to be able to back up their arguments up with reliable facts from reliable sources. This is what gives relevance and validity to the story. It is much easier to persuade someone when your argument is supported by cold hard truths. With this said, people in PR need or posses the ability to navigate the Internet and Databases for valuable information for there client or company. They also need to read current newspapers and magazines to get up to date information.
3. Planning expertise is essential because of the tasks involved in PR such as, meeting deadlines, event planning, keeping budgets, and making sure things are distributed promptly. These tasks require someone with strong organization skills, who is detail oriented and can also keep the big picture in mind. If events are not coordinated and fully planned it will reflect badly on the client or company. Same negative reflection will occur if budgets are exceeded and materials are not received when promised.
4. Strong Problem Solving ability is an essential skill in public relations that will earn a PR professional top salaries and promotions. Problem Solving ability is very important especially when dealing with a job that involves crisis management. The PR practitioner has to be able to come up with a innovative idea as fast as possible to smooth over a negative and complex problem. Also when making a public relations campaign the pr professional will have to identify the clients problem and solve it with a creative and memorable idea.
5. Business/economics competence is a valuable skill in PR because practitioners need to understand how a business operates in general and the employer’s industry in particular because the best companies weave public relations into their overall business strategy. If the PR person does not have a grip on these things it will be harder for them to figure out what there client or company needs.
Below are some job listings from monster.com that demonstrate the need for these 5 essential skills in real world job opportunities. The qualifications and responsibilities required for these positions all directly relate to the skills above.
I have also included a video from youtube.com for young professionals beginning a career in Public Relations. This video includes some of the essential skills I discussed as well as other useful tips from experienced communicators.
-Willcox, Dennis L. and Cameron, Glen T. Public Relations Strategies and Tactics. Ninth Edition. Pages. 1-28.