Monday, February 16, 2009

Public relations professionals have accreditation to certify their professionalism

I only read the USA Today when I am sitting in the sauna and steam room after playing racquetball and lifting weights. Usually, the editing and coverage is pretty straight forward, but the editor of this paper might want to check his facts from Seth Brown's freelance piece "How public relations helps steer opinion and the news" This story, published today, has a major error in fact.

Brown wrote: "Perhaps the most alluring thing about being a PR consultant is that no formal training is required: no certification, no universally acknowledged test, no courses offered at many prestigious universities (although some colleges offer PR studies). Essentially, there are no barriers to entry. Acknowledging the general bad reputation of public relations, the authors feel the need to offer a defense, calling PR "a wholly legitimate aid to the exchange of information and ideas in society.' "

Obviously Brown has never heard of the Public Relations Society of America and their APR designation. This certificate does require expertise and certification. It's because of PRSA and this designation that businesses can feel that they are dealing with a true professional.

And, I know that I should join my local PRSA chapter and get this certification. As someone who has spent 30 years in the business, it would enhance my reputation on first-time meetings with clients.

Yes, Brown is right that PR is glamorous to those students who want to join this field. However, most of the graduates from my local university can't write a declarative sentence and are in love with all forms of the verb "to be" in their release. With some training and a little patience, public relations professional can develop novices into successful professionals.

And, Brown is also right in that a lot of public relations professionals take on projects that make their firms look stupid.  Case in point -- the Wells Fargo or event planner going on MSNBC to make the point that bank employees deserve their 10-day seminar and vacation in Las Vegas. Or, the major insurance press guy who appeared in an interview Sunday who said that a local reporter from the Express News got the story right.

However, despite these perceptions about the industry, public relations professionals like me want to develop a future base of competent communicators who can help their clients tell their story to the growing array of media outlets. 

1 comment:

JF said...

Don't results count more than an accreditation (a piece of paper)?