The CIPR (UK) moves forward with the Government towards a new licensing approach

As honoray fellow of the CIPR (the UK professional association), I received this cipr news highly interesting piece of news the other day, which implies that -in agreement with the UK Government, and moving forward from the 2006 already very innovative official recognition of the Institute- procedures have been set for individual members of the CIPR to receive a chartered status…

This is a major step forward in the long standing debate on licensing and I urge you to carefully read the document.

I am sure that many will frown on this development.
If the law doesn’t oblige me to have a licence to operate why should I go through all this hassle?

The issue at stake here is not the protection of the profession impact but the protection of the profession’s stakeholders: employers, other stakeholder groups, and the public at large.

The basic and fundamental difference between this scheme and the other accredited professional recognitions which can be found in other countries, is that the public interest (represented by the Government) is directly involved in the process on the basis of the recognition that public relations, in its many and increasing practices, impacts on the public interest to the point that it is necessary to ensure predetermined standards of professional competence and behaviour.

Of course, compared to countries like Nigeria or Brazil or a few others where the law forbids non government licensed professionals to operate, this is still a voluntary procedure.

On the other hand this system allows licensed professionals to stand out and distinguish themselves from all the other improvised or less experienced ones.

In a way, this is also happening to companies …and the Arthur Page Society authentic enterprise on the Authentic Enterprise sees something similar coming, although from another perspective: there will be companies which prefer to go one way and companies which will prefer to go the other way. Presumably in the UK one can see licensed professionals working for the first and the second, while non licensed ones only for the second.

Personally I remain in favour of the full licensing procedure for the reasons I have often expressed here.

Nonetheless I am highly impressed by what the CIPR has accomplished. Now the real task is to convince employers and clients to be much more selective in order to oblige professionals and agencies to be much more strict and overall the profession will gain from this.

An excellent platform for the next World Public Relations Festival which will be held in London next June 23/24 under the chairmanship of Colin Farrington, director general of the CIPR.

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5 Replies to “The CIPR (UK) moves forward with the Government towards a new licensing approach

  1. Thanks Judy for the plug to my earlier reflection – and as I stated then, I do believe the move to individual Chartered Practitioner status is a positive step.

    A couple of considerations, firstly in relation to the “government” (or more rightly the Crown’s) recognition. For me, this would carry more weight if public bodies (including government departments) made CIPR membership (and ideally PR qualifications) part of the requirements of their own teams.

    My second observation is that the Chartered status puts PR more on a par with marketing which has offered the opportunity for some years. Although not everyone in a marketing role is chartered, there is more acceptance of working towards qualifications and improving standards than seems to be the case too often in the PR world.

    Anything that encourages those who are serious about working in PR to look at how they can be more effective has to be a good move.

  2. (Oh, there goes those Canadian Js ganging up on you again!)

    Toni, I think it is paragraph seven:

    “On the other hand this system allows licensed professionals to stand out and distinguish themselves from all the other improvised or less experienced ones.”

    …which could be interpreted as this being a move to licensing.

    Personally, I don’t see the UK government (or others) getting involved in issuing “licences” to PR practitioners, now or in the future. (Very few governments issue licences directly to individual professionals, anyhow…instead governments pass licensing-granting status on professional associations, etc.).

    Where I think CIPR certification (recognized by government charter) might have a true impact (down the road) in the UK is in the marketplace, whereby a certificated CIPR member in good standing will be considered a more desirable hire (employee or consultant) than a non-certificated one. (And definitely more favoured than a non-certificated, non-CIRP member practitioner.)

    Heather Yaxley wrote a good post about it on her personal blog, Greenbana:
    PR professionals to achieve Chartered Status

  3. Judy, Jean,
    I am curious to understand why both of you interpreted by note as saying that licensing had arrived in the UK….what would Freud have to say, maybe interpreted by Edward Bernays?

    I say there is a clear trend here, and… behold, behold…, and at least Jean and I know this for a fact, an attempt to preempt what is being discussed in Bruxelles and elsewhere.

    Someone nervous?

    If the main argument contrary to licensing is the government getting involved in the ‘private’ affairs of an industry (judy…you would have to define so our profession…)then the presumably lengthy and detailed negotiations with the Government that the CIPR has gone through to arrive at this stage has already dismantled it…

    The fact that it is voluntary (as I clearly wrote), as always, can also be interpreted as a first phase to see if chartered practitioners can make a difference…then what happens???

    This is one reason why some cipr members are critical of this move forward and why I am favourable.

  4. Right you are, Jean, and if I understand this correctly, one can remain a member of CIPR, yet opt not to undertake the certification program(s). Ergo, I would say that CIPR remains a public relations trade/industry association, rather than a professional one. (But I would say that, wouldn’t I?)

    And indeed, licensing is a whole different kettle of fish from an education component. A doctor or lawyer completes years of studies and fulfills the practical work experience component, but then still must be licensed to practice. Engineers are perhaps a better example, as many do not seek the P.Eng. licensing status, particularly if their jobs/regulations don’t require them to maintain a licensed status. (That was the case for my father, who only worked as a licensed engineer for a relatively short period of time, before moving into the education sector.)

    But I think this is a bigger step forward than almost any other national PR/marketing/communciation association has accomplished, in terms of legitimacy of practice/profession in the eyes of the government.

  5. Toni,
    This is a very good development I agree, but it is not licensing in the sense that like all other accrediation schemes it is voluntary. I take your point that it had more oomph because the PCO has to approve the scheme but it is a fra cray from governemnts granting a license under its own rules to defend public interest. I am sure CIPR did this job very well and have sufficient public interest provisions to achiev this objecrive but in my opinion you should not call this licensing. It is a form of recognition of personnal credentials. Having said that and being an APR myself I am envious that the added royal charter connotation will bring to this scheme. It will make it more prestigious and I would dare to say be an incentive for more CIPR members to obtain it. I wish I could find a way to devise such a scheme here in Canada-alas the Queen or its representative- the governor general is not in this business here in Canada.

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