CIPR CEO challenges lack of PR industry regulation; launches professional register

CIPR CEO challenges lack of PR industry regulation; launches professional register

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It’s time for the public relations industry to grow up and shift from a craft to a profession. Addressing this single issue is critical to improving the value of the profession and reputation of the industry. In a speech to the CIPR Northern Conference in Leeds today CIPR CEO Jane Wilson challenged the lack of industry regulation and launched a UK register of public relations practitioners.

“You wouldn’t go to a doctor who wasn’t regulated by the General Medical Council. Individuals, businesses and organisations retain the services of Barristers regulated by the Bar Standards Board, solicitors by the Law Society and Chartered accountants by the ICAEW,” said Wilson.

In each case these professionals are accountable to a set of published standards and if they fail in their professional conduct there are clear disciplinary procedures.

But there is no such licence to operate in public relations. You don’t have to have a qualification to practice.

The public relations industry currently regulates itself. Both the CIPR and PRCA have codes of conducts that members are expected to follow and can be used to raise a misconduct compliant. But these do not go far enough according to Wilson.

“Public relations is a management discipline with an emphatic role in business strategy, crisis management, investor relations, change communications, employee engagement, public affairs and in the relationship between organisations, individuals and print and broadcast journalism,” she said.

The CIPR will publish a searchable online directory of all of its members from December in a bid to start to address this issue.

“We will publish the register alongside the CIPR Code of Conduct and clear guidance on how those on the list can be held to account through the structures that they have signed up to as professionals,” said Wilson.

“We have prepared amendments to the CIPR regulations that make public disclosure of regulated status a requirement of membership and, in the event that we decide to exclude someone from membership, that person can be struck off the CIPR Public Relations Register,” she added.

All CIPR members have received an email from Wilson today informing them of the forthcoming publication of the register including their name, member grade, honours and chartered or accredited status.

It’s a good start by the CIPR in shifting the public relations industry from a craft to a profession. But there is more work to be done. The next step should be a shift towards formal training and mandatory Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

I am a member of the CIPR and sit on its' Council.

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