Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | April 12, 2007

The Uproar over PR credentials

Taking the debate about PR degree further, I would like to mention some more points for your consideration… (please read, my previous blog and comments to follow this post)

Making PR equivalent to a higher level of qualification than it is currently, is not a short term objective, it’s a long term plan.

Let’s think Long Term… Our efforts will yield results for the upcoming PR industry. However this will happen if only we take up this issue seriously right now, since we all know that changes of this magnitude don’t happen overnight, but they happen over the years to come.

Simon just got married, and he will plan for a child in the future. Of course he will plan for a secure future for himself and his child. Every person looks ahead to the future, making moves which might secure him and his loved ones.

As human beings, (which is a highly progressive species) we are all taught to look ahead and plan for the future, develop our skills and make improvements. If we didn’t we probably would still have been eating bananas, had we not taken part in the evolution theory.

This is in reference to TWL’s point about the fact that the oldest and greatest people from the PR industry, were the ones without any formal PR qualifications (Point taken). However that is what they did in their time and that was their contribution to PR. They made the best use of the circumstances available to them (there were no formal PR academic courses at that time).

In today’s day and age don’t you think we ought to move ahead, and carry this legacy forward (in terms of attaining PR specific qualifications?) If we don’t, this industry might stagnate, because if we keep on looking back we will never move ahead. There will be no influx of new ideas to take the PR industry to the next level. This is where I think CIPR plays an indispensable role in introducing new ideas, concepts and following them.

 

As mentioned earlier, I still stand my ground and I am a strong advocate of Specialized PR qualifications.

 

I come from a computer engineering background and am now studying PR. I don’t think that after my Engg. degree, I should have been allowed to enter the PR profession. I am sure that technically I could have contributed something to the IT PR industry (considering my IT background). However, I would have still required the necessary skill sets of PR to communicate my creativity and my ideas. Moreover, my engineering degree would have limited my contribution to PR. I could be technical, but that is not what the PR profession is all about. It is about building relationships, it is about communication, how you harvest a relationship, and in my case how to articulate my IT ideas to the public.

I can talk about SEO, SAP etc… and other technical jargon or short forms, but is that what every other human being is going to understand? No! They will lose interest in my creativity, in what I have to say, as soon as I fail to communicate effectively, which only PR can teach me, NOT Engineering, NOT English Literature, but only PR.

PR focuses not only on communication about a particular issue or product, but on how you communicate, in a way which makes ideas and creativity comprehensible for the public. PR degree dwells deep into what human beings respond to, which a person from any other degree cannot articulate.

Lastly, The way PR does role spanning is commendable, every other department looks to PR for an answer, WHY? Because we can communicate their ideas in a better way. Can any other department undertake role spanning at a level which PR can? I think not.

 

Bottom line, We are specialized people, who should to be recognized and acknowledged as separate professional entities.

 

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Responses

  1. Rajiv – you make some interesting arguments, but I have to disagree that only those with PR degrees should be allowed to work in the profession.

    Qualifications in PR are important – but why shouldn’t it be possible to gain the academic underpinnings alongside experience, such as with post-graduate or professional qualifications?

    The industry does need to look ahead – but one of our goals should be to have the best people working in PR. That cannot be achieved just by attracting young undergraduates – we can continue to benefit from good talent bringing in experience from other areas. With the caveat that like you, they want to learn about PR and not just assume it is commonsense.

    We need a robust professional development programme, like accountancy, HR and other disciplines, where it is accepted that when you take up a post, you need to work for qualifications in PR.

    Also as I’ve posted on my own blog – we need a culture of lifelong learning – so an undergraduate degree isn’t enough.

    Finally, we have to protect the long-term reputation of PR and having wider expertise is important in that. We shouldn’t just be competent in communications- and I am sure that your own computer engineering background will give you a lot of understanding and knowledge that will enhance your PR capabilities and studies.

  2. Rajiv,
    I agree that every PR professional should be required to have the the communication and other skills necessary to be in the field. My main issue is: Is a formal education the only way to gain those PR skills?

    I believe that there is more than one way to gain PR skills. Some people can gain PR skills through experience just as well as those who get the PR degree. The degree, in fact, does not guarantee that the person has the skills; schools have different programs and students learn different ways.

    We should strive for greatness and we should raise the bar of the profession and the professionals who work in it. Having the degree is one way to obtain the qualifications, but I fear that if it’s the only way, then we miss out on the skills non-PR-degree holders have gained through experience or some sort of natural skill.

    P.S. thanks for the blog support! Your belief in the PR industry inspires me.

  3. Well Said Heather!

    I agree with the point that an undergraduate degree isn’t enough in today’s competitive and professional world in any sector. However, as you said “but why shouldn’t it be possible to gain the academic underpinnings alongside experience, such as with post-graduate or professional qualifications?”

    Doesn’t that prove the fact that if individuals from a non PR background were hired to work in the PR sector, after years of work experience they would still need to acquire a postgraduate degree or diploma in PR to hone their skills and add to their knowledge?

    Yes, that would make the best educated PR practitioners. That brings me back to my point that PR qualification should be a must, even if it is afterwards. Maybe the profession can hire people who don’t have PR degrees, but then companies must ensure that people from a non PR background attain some training in PR, something like what Simon Collister is doing.

    After all PR qualifications is important to learn the “tricks of the trade.”

  4. I would argue that tricks of the trade can only be learnt on the job…

  5. Of course you will Simon 😉

    It is both… Many on the job and some in qualification. You will be surprised the amount you learn in digging into previous case studies.

  6. pr is an innate competency, which can be harnessed by the academic frames.but life long learning,right attitude and persistence can make the person a perfect pr person


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