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Becoming a CIPR Accredited PR Practitioner in eight months

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In May I became an Accredited PR Practitioner with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), in less than eight months. This is a proud moment for me and I would encourage everyone, whether you are in the PR industry or not to keep learning and growing.

What is an Accredited PR Practitioner?

The CIPR refer to it as a “hallmark of your commitment to professional excellence”. It essentially means that you are committed to updating your knowledge and skills, by learning more about PR and beyond.

To become an Accredited PR Practitioner, you have to complete two cycles of continued professional development (also known as CPD) and one cycle equals 60 points.

Here’s my CPD submission breakdown for 2020/21.

Virtual guest lecture to Business Management students

In March I delivered a virtual guest lecture on communications and technology in the workplace applied to organisational behaviour. This was to first year students on the Business Management degree at Coventry University.

I really enjoyed the chance to share my experience and knowledge with the students to get them thinking about the bigger picture. I spoke about artificial intelligence and its use in recruitment – hello Amazon, Workplace by Facebook as an internal communications tool with live examples, social media policy, ethics and more.

I received great feedback and I’m hoping to deliver more guest lectures in the future, I also got a chance to brush up on my presentation skills which is an extra bonus. I obtained 10 CPD points from this activity.

Jolt NAMBA Programme

Outside of work, I have been participating in the Jolt Not an MBA programme. Jolt is a business school that provides a modern education with knowledge and skills that you can use the next day at work. Classes are split across different areas: management, leadership, data, finance, marketing and customer service – you name it, it’s there.

I’ve been on the programme since May 2019, what I love about Jolt is that I am constantly growing but with a particular emphasis on soft skills. I believe you can be a technical wizard in any industry or job, but leaders of the future must have strong soft skills like emotional intelligence, empathy, and self-awareness. I personally would love to see more of a focus of this in the PR industry.

I track my Jolt attendance on a simple spreadsheet, using the magic of an =SUM formula I discovered that I had clocked up 96 hours of study. Time flies when you’re having fun learning and stepping outside of your comfort zone. I obtained 30 CPD points from this activity.


Ethics in PR is a growing area of interest for me, plus you have to complete an ethics activity as part of your CPD submission every year.

Earlier this year I read the Edelman Trust Barometer Report – which I would highly recommend as it looks at trust and credibility globally across government, media, business and NGOs.

For my CPD submission, I decided to go for a CIPR skills guide – The Ethics of Paid & Earned Media. I’m at a stage of my career where I’m starting to delve more into the theoretical aspect of PR, the skills guide gave a reminder of the PESO model, as well as reviewing the fine line between paid and earned media. Especially with some aspects of influencer marketing where it can be hard to identify if a piece of content is an advert or editorial piece. This activity contributed 5 CPD points to my total.

Crisis Communications, Risk Issues & Management

We all know the impact that COVID-19 has had on pretty much everything, even in our work as communicators. Crisis communications have played a major part in the efforts across many organisations. There have been many considerations including safety, reputation management, the rise of social activism and accountability, supply chain disruption and more. From an early stage in my career, I have had exposure to crisis communications, but COVID-19 is something that we have never experienced and I wanted to build my knowledge in this area and learn from experienced practitioners.

I watched a CIPR webinar on Risk Issues & Crisis Management by Dave Mason. I learned about the four different stages of a crisis: risk issues management, reputation management and crisis planning, crisis management and response and crisis recovery. It was a great deep dive and I really enjoyed learning more about media relations during a crisis.

I also attended a virtual discussion led by Tiffany St James at work. Tiffany is the Founder of Transmute and is an Associate Digital Director at Westco Communications. She shared her thought leadership on crisis communications, particularly focusing on digital media relations and building team resilience during a crisis.

Let’s talk about resilience

In the UK it is estimated that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health issue. Looking at the industry, the CIPR State of the Profession report 2019 highlighted that “21% of respondents live with or have previously lived with, a diagnosed mental health condition”.

Resilience has been a recurring theme during COVID-19, to up my knowledge and practice in this area I watched a CIPR webinar on Building Resilience by Leona Deakin. I highly recommend watching this webinar, Leona really went into detail about the many areas of resilience including comfort, stretch and burnout, as well as the physiological and psychological effects of stress on the body. Leona highlighted that advances in technology have blurred the lines between work/life balance and this can potentially lead to stress, as you may feel like you’re ‘on’ all the time, which can lead to burnout.

A webinar is worth 5 CPD points, 3 webinars gave me 15 CPD points and this was the final part of my CPD submission.

Next Steps

I’m now an Accredited PR Practitioner, to retain this I have to submit 60 CPD points each year which I will definitely be doing. My next step is to kickstart my own campaign and development programme to become a Chartered PR Practitioner with the CIPR. I’m not rushing to get to this stage because I have lots to learn and experience, however I am setting out my goal to become chartered by 2025 and I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

As part of this I want to become CIPR qualified, I plan to achieve this by starting the CIPR Professional PR Diploma within the next 12 months. I’ve been wanting to up my theory and strategic approach to PR for a while and I feel like this will be a great opportunity to do this. I also have academic interests in PR, so this will be a great way to see if I want to explore further study after I have completed the diploma.

Key Takeaway

Becoming an Accredited PR Practitioner is an achievement that I am so proud of, but there is a key takeaway.

It doesn’t stop here, it says it in the name, CPD – Continued Professional Development.

Just because I’ve completed two cycles of CPD in a relatively short time, it does not mean that I stop learning. CPD is for life, so if I was to say anything to you, it would be – Don’t stop learning. Always be learning. And CPD is for life.

Happy learning everyone, until next time.

You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.