Professional Development Programme in Public Relations Practice: Practice Makes Perfect
Medupi Lamola, Communication Specialist and PR Practice student at Provox
The general image of the Public Relations profession is not a good one and serious intervention is needed to change that. Given the negative nature that surrounds this profession, the truth is that every organisation needs Public Relations to build and maintain its relationship with its stakeholders. So credibility is key to the success of this profession.
Many professional bodies such as the Financial Planning Institute (FPI), the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) have strict measures such as board examinations, to assess and accredit practitioners who would like to enter their fields of practise.
Although regulation of entry in to the Public Relations field cannot be standardised soon, it is up to the individual practitioner and industry organisations such as the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) to make sure that 'that which they hold so dear' does not become extinct. Learning plays an important part in alerting practitioners on how the standard and image of the Public Relations profession can be changed.
The May 2011 intake of the Public Relations Practice course at the Provox Centre for Public Relations and Communication share this view. Baitse Mokiti, one of the Public Relations Practice course students at Provox, reckons the course is an eye opener. "I knew that there are many elements to Public Relations but never discussed them in much detail. "It makes it easier to identity which areas of specialisation one can focus on".
It is increasingly becoming important that as a professional, you keep up-skilling yourself in your field of expertise. In this day and age, change happens fast and one needs to be able to adapt quickly in order to survive. "…It's also interesting how Public Relations is changing and the extent to which it is influenced by the various publics such as social media", adds Mokiti.
There are many studies and information channels that suggest ways of improving Public Relations. Another best way to learn is from your peers how they apply Public Relations in their organisations. "I enjoyed the group interaction with other students and I have learnt a lot from what their organisations are doing in terms of Public Relations. "It also a great help for students to have facilitators with such great expertise, to offer us first-hand account of their experiences in the Public Relations field", she concludes.
Public Relations practitioners in general, and industry organisations such as PRISA, are facing a mammoth task of protecting the image of this profession. As a practitioner or student, it is imperative that you consciously remain ethical in your practice and keep on enhancing the value and image of Public Relations.