Public Relations is on the rise. It is adjudged the fastest growing profession in the world. Social and digital media have created more opportunities for it and have expanded its remit at the same time. In the United Kingdom alone, the workforce has grown by 22% with more than 71,000 PR practitioners employed in the past four years, according to CIPR 2018’s State of the Professional Report. The same trend has been reported in other climes. Interestingly, more CEOs and top management executives are realizing the value of PR in helping to achieve an organization’s goals. And the role of the PR professional continues to expand.

The same CIPR Report reveals evidence of skills gap, especially at the PR industry’s senior level with only 25% good in people management, 33% in business acumen and less than 3% in business strategy. Global Communication Report has also revealed serious shortage of talents in PR and other studies have reported skills gaps created by emerging communication technologies. These indicate a gross lack of attention by PR professionals to continuous professional development. There is an urgent need to close the gap.

Catching the Next Wave

You have to catch the waves of development in the PR profession as they come. Globalization brought with it a wave of changes in the way business and PR is done. The rapid evolution of social media and digital technologies are not without challenges; and the global acceptance of PR as a strategic management function comes with unique and new demands from the PR professional. Writing in Deloitte Review in an article titled Catch the Wave: The 21st Century Career, Josh Bersin explains that one way to think of a career in the 21st century is to consider yourself a surfer. You can catch a good wave early in your life; and as it crests and falls, you need to look for the next wave. PR has gone through waves of developments in the past decades with each wave demanding new knowledge, new skills, new abilities and new behaviours. As a PR professional, you have to continuously up your skills. You have to structure a way to track your knowledge and skills set; then, maintain and develop relevant competencies to meet the evolving demands of your job. To do otherwise comes with dire consequences; such as:

  • Obsolescence of your knowledge and skills
  • Reduced competitiveness and employability
  • Reduced ability to deliver top notch services to clients
  • Contraction of business and career prospects
  • Decrease in professional relevance
  • Loss of personal and professional confidence

You Don’t Have To Break the Bank

You don’t have to break the bank in order to avail yourself of professional development opportunities. Once you have identified your needs, you can take advantage of low cost learning opportunities provided by innovators; such as, khan Academy, Udacity, Udemy, Coursera,  Edx and the rest of them, to expand your knowledge and skills in areas relevant to your field. You can also take advantage of online degree programmes offered by leading Universities.

Opportunities also exist in PR and Marketing conferences, Masterclasses, mentoring programmes, books, magazines and blogs. Most PR Institutes have mandatory Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programmes for their members. You shouldn’t treat these with kid gloves. They address new developments in the field.

Use GBOK and Global Capacities Framework as Guides

A continuous professional development programme that fails to address the needs of your current career stage is not good enough. I suggest you adopt the Global Body of Knowledge (GBOK) and the Global Capacities Framework for Public Relations and Communication Management as your guides.

The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, the global voice of the Public Relations profession, released the framework in April 2018. It represents those capacities which are shared globally that PR professionals are expected to have. Employers and team leaders are expected to use it to assess and understand their team’s strength and identify where training resources need to be committed. Educators can use it for curriculum development and review. Also, individual PR professionals are expected to use it to review their own strengths, set and accomplish professional development goals that meet global standards.

The GBOK document is the foundation of the Global Capacities Framework. It captures the knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviours that PR professionals are expected to display at different levels of their careers. You can download it in the Global Alliance website. Note, all failures result from the failure to adapt to changing environments. Continuous professional development helps you to improve your knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviours. It helps you to adapt to the PR trends as they emerge, and to successfully ride every wave of change as they come. You can’t afford to overlook or ignore it.