I was asked recently whether businesses really should hire PR practitioners who are Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) members above non-members, either as employees or on a consultancy basis. The answer was a resounding yes for a multitude of reasons – not least because businesses should be able to expect the highest level of professionalism from those they’re working with and should always have somewhere to turn if ever things go wrong. For example, I personally wouldn’t hire a surveyor who wasn’t a member of RICS or a plumber who wasn’t APHC registered. It’s ultimately as simple as that.
As well as adhering to a rigorous code of conduct, CIPR members commit to continuous professional development and are assessed annually in a variety of ways. Who wouldn’t want to work with a specialist at the top of their game, who stays at the forefront of their industry by participating in training, events and consultations? Of course not every CIPR member is of the same standard, but you’ve got a much higher chance of receiving top level advice by going down that route.
Members also have access to a wealth of advice and resources that can make a real difference to the work they do. If you just want a PRO to generate a bit of media coverage for you in the hope that it does the job of grabbing people’s attention and so you can tick a box, that might not interest you – but if you’re looking for someone to offer strategic support and make a real difference to the bottom line, this can be a game changer. The people that use what’s on offer are very often those who will successfully help shape your business, determine what direction it should go in and protect its reputation. They won’t just fire out a release because it looks like a good news story but look at the bigger picture – and they will know what to do when a crisis hits. When a reputation is damaged, a business loses trust from its stakeholders and in turn revenue and often the results can be catastrophic, which is why this is important.
The CIPR itself sets it out clearly. It says: Reputation has a direct and major impact on the corporate well-being of every organisation, be it a multinational, a charity, a government department or a small business. Reputation is a matter for the board, not just in times of crisis, but as part of its ongoing activities. That is why the professionalism of those people who protect and shape reputation – public relations practitioners – is so important. The CIPR, as the voice of the PR profession, plays a key role in setting and maintaining standards. When a public relations practitioner chooses to become a member of the CIPR they are demonstrating a commitment to its code of conduct.
In short, this means members like me commit to maintaining the ‘highest standards of professional endeavour, integrity, confidentiality, financial propriety and personal conduct’ and much more.
CIPR membership is obviously not the only thing you should be judging a potential employee or consultant on - skills, experience, ability, initiative, personality and of course costs (amongst other things) all form part of the equation. However if you are looking for a mark of differentiation and someone who cares about their career, this can be a good indication of a strong level of commitment, which everyone likes to see. Those that give their time to their local group are certainly definitely worth a second look and I’m not just saying that as someone who has sat on the CIPR’s national board and remains on its Council and North East committee. These people are giving their time for free in order to help develop best practice and policy and are helping take the industry forward. They’ll probably do the same for your business and you can’t ask for much more than that.
To find out more about the CIPR and all it stands for, visit www.cipr.co.uk.