Chartered status is the norm in well-established professions – Chartered Accountants are probably the most well-known – but it is relatively new and unheard of in public relations. In fact, until November 2015 there were only 51 Chartered PR Practitioners.
Becoming chartered ought to be part of the career journey of every member of a chartered body, so the CIPR underwent a review of the assessment process to bring chartered status into the realms of being ‘normal’ for public relations practitioners. The assessment changes were introduced to provide a clear pathway that is aspirational yet attainable for those members who are serious about PR as a career – and no longer elitist or unachievable as many PR practitioners believed.
What does Chartered status represent?
The CIPR is clear that chartered status represents the highest standard of professional excellence and integrity and reflects the breadth of your experience and achievements.
In real terms, I would say that being granted chartered status also:
- Puts you on a par with other Chartered professionals. Being Chartered has a certain cachet which business people understand.
- Gives you a professional edge and enhances your career prospects
- Demonstrates your commitment to learning and development – you have to maintain your annual CPD to continue to use the Chart.PR designation
- Future proofs public relations as it sets a standard and expectation of practice which employers will pay more for.
Do not underestimate the sense of personal achievement when you receive the nod that you have been successful. The validation this brings to how you practice in your chosen career is something that every practitioner, no matter their level of seniority, welcomes … even if they say they don’t!
The assessment is built around three sessions to specifically assess your knowledge, experience and skills in Strategy, Leadership and Ethics. The day is long – from 9am to 6pm – and is one of intense discussions with your peers and the assessors. Read the Guidance for candidates applying for Chartership document on the CIPR website for information on how the day is structured and assessed.
Ten top tips on how to prepare for the assessment
- Assessment material – You will receive the reading material in advance of the assessment day. The more time you can spend reading the material, reflecting on your experience and preparing notes, the greater your chance of success. It is better to take a good run at this – most people spend a weekend focusing on their preparation – rather than doing it in bits and pieces – you know how you work best so do what suits you.
- Competences – Read through the list of competences (assessment criteria) and jot down thoughts on each, plus think of examples to draw on from your experience to demonstrate your understanding of how each applies. The discussions take many twists and turns during each session so make your notes succinct and quick to read so you can refer to them to pull your mind back to the points you want to get across.
- Case Studies – Read each of the case studies you are sent a couple of times and use the accompanying questions as a guide to think about the subject as a whole. The discussion will explore wider issues than those covered in the case studies so think of answers to the questions, but let your mind think of other salient points as well. These questions are not stuck to rigidly during the assessment, but are a kick-start to wider discussions.
- Personal examples – Think about examples from your own professional experience that are relevant to the case studies, and which concur or contrast with the Chartership preparation materials. You can have a view which is at odds with the assessor or the case study – homogenous thought is not considered a good thing. The key to success is translating your experience into examples you can articulate clearly.
- Application of knowledge – Reflect on how PR theory is used every day in your role. These are not theoretical assessments – but assessments of putting theory into practice, so think of examples of how theories have worked, or indeed not worked for you, and what you have learnt. Offer critical analysis of theories and ideas, and recognize their strong points and their weaknesses or flaws.
- PR function – You need to be able to demonstrate your understanding of how the PR function operates and relates to the organisational considerations of employers/clients.
- A rounded practitioner – You are being assessed ‘in the round’ and not on any one specific element. You are assessed in a way which determines how you are as a complete PR practitioner. You will need to demonstrate that you have prepared for the day, show respect and listen to others in your group, building on points they make, and speak up and present your opinions
- Be heard – If, on the day, you do not feel your voice is being heard – perhaps you have an overly dominant personality in your group – speak to the lead assessor as soon as you identify a problem. The assessors are all told to look out for this situation and to give everyone a chance to be heard, but if you are not happy with the exposure you are getting, speak up. Don’t become a shrinking violet as if the assessors do not get a chance to hear what you have to say, they will be unable to determine you meet the level required to be granted chartered status
- CPD Plan – The final session of the day is a peer review of the two-year CPD plan you write in advance. This is not assessed but if you fail to submit a copy and participate in this session you will not proceed. Consider the assessed competences as a base to work out what skills you want to build on and discuss these with your group. Look at the CPD activities in MyCPD for ideas of how you will improve in each area.
- Let’s talk – Finally, talk to others who have already been granted Chart.PR status – see the list of Chartered PR Practitioners on the CIPR website (on the day of publishing this post, we number 97) – those with Found. Chart.PR went through the previous assessment so will not have experience of what you are about to go through, although some of these are current assessors. Get in touch and ask what they did to prepare – you will find fellow Chartered PR Practitioners are a helpful and supportive bunch. Alternatively, read my blog post of the assessment day I attended (which is linked to from the CIPR’s Chartered pages).
Have you decided yet?
If you are an MCIPR or FCIPR and have completed three years of CPD within the last five years – including the last cycle – then you are eligible to attend the assessment day. In whichever capacity you are employed, for example, in a big team or as an independent practitioner, in-house or agency, internal communications, private or public sector, or in an international role, the CIPR Chart.PR assessment does not differentiate or discriminate. It is the quality of your professional experience which counts.
Good luck … and #getchartered.