Reclaiming communication as a profession

An interesting thought for the day – how do we get people to recognise that communication and PR is a profession? How can we show that it is a profession we are proud to work in? How can we show the skill and experience of those working within communication?

It is a difficult one because until recently there was little chance to demonstrate the skills that communicators had and at a time of financial challenges it is easy for people to say ‘I know about communication I read the newspapers, I use Twitter and Facebook’. This view has led to some organisations feeling able to place unskilled people into communication roles. And with ever decreasing resources comms teams can become focused on delivering the work and fail to highlight to internal audiences the role they have played in achieving results.

I am sure communicators will have experienced the same thing in the past or possibly more recently. The frustration about the view of corporate communication and public relations is something that many share and I know because wherever I go similar discussions take place. So what do we do to improve the standing of communication and public relations, particularly following high-profile incidents that have featured in the media?

There are no easy answers. For me the starting point has to be how we interact and behave on a daily basis. We need, as professional communicators, to show that we are providing reasoned, logical advice that is grounded in knowledge and experience. This means being able to explain about theories and models of communication and also to be able to demonstrate what works and why. This takes us back to the thorny issue of how to evaluate communication activity and there are no easy answers there.

It is also important for us all to ensure we are involved in continuous professional development in some form. I have blogged recently about the benefits of sharing information, networking and visiting other communicators particularly outside the arena you are working in. There are lots of opportunities that exist, whether that is the CIPR diploma, training, continuous professional development or the move to become a chartered practitioner. But we also have access to online education through MOOCs such as those provided through Coursera and FutureLearn. Time is always going to be an issue but can we afford not to invest in ourselves?

Finally, it is about challenging the media representation of the profession. This needs to be the focus for professional bodies including the CIPR and the PRCA and other industry based communication groups. We all need to show the real benefits from effective communication whether they are operational, customer service and business profits. As individuals we need to demonstrate that on a daily basis. If we can do this we give ourselves a fighting chance of redefining communication and public relations as a profession. This is something I am passionate about so that the hard work taking place across organisations day in and day out gets the recognition it deserves.

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One Response to Reclaiming communication as a profession

  1. pamelawelsh says:

    This might be a bit controversial, so apologies in advance. But I wonder if there is an issue with the media side of things because there is a conflict between journalists and comms types. I made the switch two years ago and got all that ‘dark side’ nonsense from former colleagues. I wonder if there’s an idea that comms is just better paid journalism and that’s where the snipeyness comes from. In reality, it’s much more intricate – I know I’ve learnt so much in the last two years and am ultimately more skilled than I’ve ever been. But I wonder if we’re not getting that message across to those who are working in journalism. Until we sort that, I’m not sure we’ll ever sort that media perception thing.

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