Are you ready to #GetChartered?

Chartered Public Relations: Lessons from Expert PractitionersThe Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has simplified the route to Chartered Practitioner status, widening eligibility for members in the drive to professionalism. The status recognizes the highest standard of knowledge, expertise and ethical practice within the PR industry and is a benchmark of professional excellence and integrity.

Previously the process involved a statement of experience, written paper and formal interview. To apply candidates had to have worked in a public relations or communications role for at least ten years (reduced slightly for those with a CIPR recognised qualification) and be signed up to CPD.

Public relations professionals within CIPR membership can now apply for an assessment day if:

-       They have completed three consecutive years of CIPR CPD.

-       They have completed two years of CIPR CPD and hold a Masters degree or the CIPR Diploma.

Lead examiner Paul Noble described the move this way: “Previously we awarded Chartered status to those who had reached the pinnacle. Now we want to recognize those future leaders who are very firmly on the journey to getting there.”

The very first assessment day under the new regulations took place earlier this week. I was one of the cohort of professionals to test the system. I’m pleased to report I passed and achieved the status of Chartered Practitioner.

How does it work?

If you meet the criteria and believe you’re ready for Chartered, the process to follow is quite simple.

The 2016 dates for assessment days will be published by the CIPR on the website. To apply you register online, pay the fee and submit a scan of your Masters degree certificate if you are using that as part of your application.

There are a number of competences you need to demonstrate in order to pass, focusing mainly on Ethics, Strategy and Leadership.

The Assessment Criteria states: “Candidates must show a broad knowledge of the context in which the public relations function operates and an ability to relate public relations activities to the wider organizational considerations of clients or employers.”

What it’s like to do

On the day, you are introduced to your assessors and placed into a group of people with whom you participate in three panel sessions. The vibe is kept fairly relaxed and there are regular breaks throughout the entire process. While some of the questions were fairly tough, I actually quite enjoyed it.

Your group is later changed for a peer review, during which you talk through and agree CPD plans for the next two years – a piece of work you are expected to have prepared in advance and which is part of the criteria to pass.

To complete the day there is a talk by a Chartered Practitioner and then successful parties stay on for drinks and a certificate presentation.

Think carefully before you apply

I’m pleased I applied and would encourage others to follow suit but it’s not something to do on a whim. While Chartered Practitioner status can be a lot swifter to achieve because the assessment hinges around one day of assessment rather than a three stage application, it is still a very rigorous process. Not everyone passes.

After each session and before the peer review, the assessors mark you as a clear pass, borderline or clear fail. If you fail the first two sessions, you are asked to leave there and then. If by the end of the day you have received two borderline assessments, your case goes to deliberation by the assessors and is decided by majority vote. It feels harsh but it works.

If at any point you feel you’re not presenting yourself to best effect, you are able to withdraw (you’re told what the deadline is to do this) and can register for a later assessment day without paying an additional fee.

Everyone applying has to have read the Chartered Public Relations: Lessons from Expert Practitioners book. I’m fortunate in that much of the thinking in the #FuturePRoof project I recently launched picks up many of the same themes. I’d have needed to do much more research and background reading had that not been the case.

My recommendation is that if you think you’re ready, go for it and in the meantime start your preparation now. It’ll stand you in good stead. You’ll also be a better practitioner for it.