The world is in a mess and it seems that a complete absence of leadership, decent ethics and strategy is driving poor decision making at every level in our society and the consequences of this are immeasurable human suffering and torment. Having a few more chartered public relations practitioners might just tip the balance towards some more considered decision making by leaders which would benefit everyone and possibly save the world. However small our numbers and influence might currently be, small positive actions can collectively drive big change.
Last week I, and some of the other chartered members of the CIPR Inside committee hosted a Get Chartered question and answer session for anyone interested in becoming a CIPR Chartered PR Professional.
It was great to see so many people joining us and I enjoyed the discussion immensely. It was clear that the recent move of the chartered assessment day into a new ‘socially distant’ online format, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has increased the interest. There were quite a few questions about this new format, and I do hope that CIPR retain it as an option when the pandemic is over alongside the previous face to face version. Quite simply, it reduces the barriers to participation for some, and that can only be for the good to encourage more PR people who are eligible to get chartered.
The big ‘why’
Since I took the plunge and became CIPR Chartered in October 2017 I have had many conversations with other internal communicators about getting chartered. Almost always, the questions they have focus on the practicalities such as eligibility to apply, how to prepare, what happens on the day and if they will be able to cope with the cross examination of their knowledge and experience by the assessors. So, I expected that we would receive similar questions on the recent Q&A and I wasn’t wrong, but we were also asked what the benefits of getting chartered were and this ended up in a discussion about ‘why’ we had made the effort to get chartered in the first place.
I can understand why people might ask this, and also question why they should go to the trouble and expense of getting chartered when it isn’t a requirement in the UK and many other parts of the world to be qualified, chartered or even a member of a relevant professional body to practice public relations.
Alongside the the other committee members, I gave my answer. Most of us spoke about doing it for ourselves to increase our self-confidence, crush our imposter syndrome and to be seen and perceived as a professional by other professionals working in different disciplines. I also got my soap box out for a moment or two to build on this latter point, because I think that getting chartered isn’t and shouldn’t just be a selfish ambition.
It’s also about building the credibility of our entire profession and shifting the perception that public relations, and particularly internal communication, are things which just anybody can do well. They can’t and I, like many others, have studied my subject for decades and worked hard to get the experience and qualifications and to keep my skills and knowledge up to date through CPD to be the best at what I do. It is frustrating that some people doing the job don’t think that this is necessary, and annoying that some recruiters and hiring managers also think the same way.
I’ve since reflected on the discussion during the session and the reasons we all gave for becoming chartered and I think there is another good reason, and it’s a big one.
A bigger imperative
Right now, the world is in a mess. In the last few weeks, we have seen some extraordinary events and decision making unfold which have unleashed a tidal wave of human suffering and torment. The COVID-19 pandemic and the brutal, incomprehensible and sometimes bizarre responses of the leaders of some nations to this, such as those of the Ostrich Alliance. The shocking killing of George Floyd and the president of a major democracy turning the National Guard on his people in an attempt to quell the consequent outrage with a complete avoidance of any attempt to show empathy or conciliation. The human and civil rights violations in Hong Kong proliferated in the guise of legitimate governance, and the almost invisible and unforgivable growing humanitarian disaster in the Yemen. There are, of course, many other examples at every level in our society.
Why and how has it come to this? It seems to me that there is a now a complete absence of leadership and any kind of decent ethics and morality in some parts of the world, and that some leaders and governments have no credible exit or resolution strategies to get us out of this mess or to govern in the first place.
Just ‘who’ is doing the advising these days?
As I sit confounded and bemused watching the news or reading about it these days, I often wonder exactly ‘who’ is advising some leaders on leadership, strategy and ethics? These are the three core themes of the chartership assessment, and it’s clear that whoever is doing the advising these days doesn’t have a good grasp of any of these concepts or is simply being ignored.
Whilst I’m proud to be a chartered PR professional, I’m not conceited enough to think that I should be advising presidents and governments, although I would relish the opportunity to give some of them a piece of my mind right now.
However, it is not just at the national and global level that poor decision making is happening. The poor decision making at the top has created an environment for this to happen lower down the societal food chain, as businesses and institutions come under pressure from the intended and unintended consequences of it. This is the level where people like me can make a difference and why we need more chartered PR practitioners to use their knowledge of leadership, ethics and strategy to help guide and influence some better decision making.
I tweeted at the beginning of this pandemic that the response of their employers would expose to some employees whether or not they worked for a great employer or a not so great employer. Unfortunately, as the impacts of the pandemic have unfolded over the last few weeks we have since seen that some don’t. Could these outcomes have been different if there had been a chartered PR or internal communications practitioner like me in the decision-making mix?
Save the world
An old Chinese proverb tells us that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly can be felt on the other side of the world. Translating this wisdom into a more modern context, chaos theory predicts that small actions are capable of generating large positive changes.
Perhaps having a few more chartered PR people in the world would help nurture some better leadership, strategy and ethics to guide improved decision making by leaders at all levels, to create those small positive actions which collectively could save the world and get us all out of this mess.
If that isn’t a good enough reason to get chartered, I don’t know what is.
If you are interested in getting chartered there is more information about how to do so on the Chartered Institute of Public Relations website.