On the 3rd February I wrote a blog post calling for the CIPR to take a stronger role in CIPR approved courses. Essentially the post explores, through personal experience, the level of support the CIPR provides their student members and how they could improve. This blog post features the CIPR’s response.
A couple of hours after I posted the original I received a reply from the CIPR Director of Policy and Communications, Phil Morgan, through Twitter. Not only did this show the CIPR are good at their social media monitoring but it also demonstrated the importance they place on their student members – they wanted to answer to my post. Whilst waiting for the CIPR’s official response a fair number of comments appeared on the post and my email inbox has been relatively busy. Each commenter provided a valid opinion and a few with constructive criticism.
Yesterday the CIPR responded publically to the post.
From Alison Steel, CIPR Director of Professional Development and Membership
You make some good points and, as I have suggested to you by email, I’d like to meet up to draw on your ideas and those of other undergraduates. We want to provide a student membership that is of genuine value to students and future employers. Enhancement of our student package is already underway and we have further, quite radical changes we want to make in the near future.
However, I would like to challenge the overall picture you paint of little return from student membership. There are so many more benefits than you suggest. Not all are perfect and we are working hard to make sure that, for example, networking opportunities are available and consistent between regions. I have just initiated a review of placement finder – you’re right it does need improvement.
But there are some really good benefits for CIPR student members – for example access to some 30 webinars (worth around £700) free of charge – either live or on demand. The CIPR member area also has a wealth of case studies, policy briefings and research to support your studies. The CIPR Conversation (a blog aggregator) is – as I’m sure you know already – becoming the place to discuss topical PR issues.
We already have a database of PR jobs – it’s called PR Jobshop and there are currently just short of 1,000 jobs throughout the UK advertised there. They are not currently categorised for graduate entry, so that’s something I plan to look in to.
I like your suggestions for regional networking and will definitely be picking that up with our regional committees. It would be great to bring university groups together but I fear the cost of travel for students might preclude this – perhaps there is some way we can work around this, including possibly a virtual forum.
As of last week, CIPR Council approved a change in regulations which means that graduates from three-year PR degrees recognised by the CIPR qualify to become MCIPR after just one year in a professional PR role and those who have had one year’s work experience already as part of a recognised four-year ‘sandwich’ course qualify to apply for MCIPR as soon as they are working in their first professional PR role. This move substantially reduces the length of time graduates of recognised degrees need to work in PR before they can become full members. Once you are MCIPR and complete two years’ online Continuous Professional Development (CPD) you become a CIPR Accredited Practitioner – a standard recognised by employers and recruitment agencies.
Having said all that – I would also echo Richard Bailey’s comment, outlining the multiple parts that go into making a successful education in public relations. CIPR’s input is just one part of that. Heather Yaxley also makes very important points about proactivity.
We believe we have a reasonable existing package of benefits but we are also striving to improve it, informed by the needs of PR students. As a Chartered Body we have a duty to the profession as a whole – and PR graduates are a significant part of the profession’s future.
With very best wishes – and thanks for your input
Since the official response the University of Gloucestershire has once again been listed as a CIPR approved University to the delight of all current PR students. Over the next couple of weeks I will be gathering thoughts from my PR class concerning CIPR Student Membership ideas (along with anybody else who would like to leave a comment on this post) which I will be able to discuss with Alison.
I am very pleased and impressed with the outcome so far. The final year of University is extremely hectic but I have made a promise to myself to assist giving value back to the CIPR through (perhaps) joining one of the regional groups once I graduate. I will look into this nearer the time.
The CIPR has proved to me (and hopefully to all of you) that they do care about their student members, ideas are listened to and changes are happening.