The Chartered PR Practitioner Q&A: Ben Verinder on applying psychology in PR

The Chartered PR Practitioner Q&A: Ben Verinder on applying psychology in PR

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One of my commitments as CIPR President was to promote the value of learning and development as a foundation for professionalism. Public relations may be a maturing professional discipline but unlike other areas of management we have yet to mandate the qualities that mark out other professions, such as formal qualifications and life-long learning.

Personally I can show a direct and on-going correlation between my skills and my income throughout my career. To me, there is no clearer value in education and training.

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. You can read about my route to achieving Chartered PR Practitioner status via a series of blog posts.

Here's the first interview with Ben Verinder. His paper explores the benefit of applying psychological theory to public relations practice.

ben-verinderWho are you and what’s your day job?

I'm the managing director of Chalkstream Communications, an agency specialising in reputation and communications research. I also consult in the publishing, education and technology sectors and train in reputation leadership and a variety of PR disciplines.

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

To actually become a profession - through the usual mechanisms of specialist training, professional association, a code of conduct and high standards of work - until client expectations of service and expertise equate to a license to practice. So says an incurable optimist.

Why did you apply for Chartered PR Practitioner status?

I wanted to challenge myself. Plus it was a good excuse to dust off the text books and revisit the theoretical elements that underpin practice.

How did you find the assessment process?

Fair. I spent a lot of time and effort on the Stage II paper and it was useful and interesting to be able to debate and discuss the arguments with my peers. Stage I was a rare opportunity to take a look back through your working life and understand better what you’ve done and what’s missing in terms of skills and experience.

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

That the benefits of applying psychological theory to public relations practice extend far beyond developing an improved understanding of human behaviour. Incorporating psychology in PR practice can help us be more effective in positively raising awareness or changing attitudes. It can also help determine how an organisation communicates and, ultimately, behaves.

Ben’s paper Passport to the win-win zone? The role of psychology in public relations practice and education is available as a download (PDF).

Further information

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

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