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Chartered PR Practitioner Q&A: David Alexander on PR vs management consultancy

One of my commitments as CIPR President was to promote the value of learning and development as a foundation for professionalism.

Throughout the year I’m going to blog interviews with practitioners that have achieved Chartered PR Practitioner status to understand their motivation and perspective on the profession.

The Chartered Practitioner qualification is pitched by the CIPR as “a benchmark for those working at a senior level and a ‘gold standard’ to which all PR practitioners should strive to reach.” It consists of an initial questionnaire on your career, a paper and formal interview.

David Alexander’s paper explored the role of public relations versus management consultancy.

david-alexanderWho are you and what’s your day job?

I’m a former sports journalist who worked for the Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC and Reuters amongst others before moving into PR.

I’m now the managing director and founder of Calacus, a public relations consultancy that specialises in sport and charity.

What’s the greatest opportunity for the public relations profession?

Digital and measurement are the buzzwords in PR at the moment but I feel our biggest opportunity lies in strategic advice. The impression and reputation any organisation has is now paramount to its success and we have to take a lead in directing that. I also believe that as an industry we must uphold the highest possible standards and encourage more people to undertake CPD, Chartered Practitioner status and continued professional education to firmly establish PR as a profession rather than just a lifestyle.

Why did you apply for Chartered PR Practitioner status?

When I moved into PR from journalism, I was hired for my media experience but I had knowledge gaps about other aspects of the industry. I believe we all continue to learn every day but qualifying as a Chartered Practitioner is the gold standard and something I was determined to achieve.

How did you find the assessment process?

I enjoyed the assessment process. It gave me a chance to reflect on what I had learnt over the years and where I needed to focus in future. The interview at the end was tough but enthralling.

What was the topic of your paper and what did you learn?

I spoke to a number of industry experts and it underlined the challenges we face from management consultants, the world of digital communications and of promoting public relations itself.

While measurement continues to be a moot issue for many, we need to celebrate what we do and focus on what we do well. We are not just storytellers, but we are very good at telling our clients’ stories. We are advisors but perhaps we need to push that element of our role more forcefully to clients and prospective clients.

Essentially, PR had become media relations in many ways and the emergence of digital platforms means we are getting back to the core of public relations consultants: helping brands, organisations, individuals and causes to raise awareness, build and protect reputations and shape their strategy.

David’s paper is informing the development of his business and has not been published.

Further Information

You can connect with David via his blog, LinkedIn, or Twitter (@calacus), and if you’re interested in further information about learning and development please check the CIPR website.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

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