More Able For PR - The PRII Diploma in PR helps practitioners make career strides

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Neasa Kane-Fine MPRII on how the PRII Diploma in Public Relations can help practitioners make career strides. This year's PRII Diploma, begins on 25th September and you can find out more here:

With the role of strategic communications becoming ever more recognised in business and the public and voluntary sectors, public relations is now an attractive career choice for many. The profession provides a range of opportunities to work with the media, advocate for worthy causes, contribute to the formation of public policy, publicise important information, create compelling content, manage big brand campaigns and facilitate public consultation and participation in the development of major projects.

But what does it take to be a good PR professional? Is it innate, or can it be learned?

As public relations is “the sustained and planned effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between and organisation and its publics” (Institute of Public Relations UK), public relations professionals require appropriately developed skills in key areas.  These skills include writing; an in-depth knowledge of the media landscape (in Ireland and more increasingly abroad as Irish based organisations expand their markets); an ability to understand the many audiences and develop appropriate targeted messages for each; knowledge of research and strategy formation; an appreciation for reputation and how to manage it; know-how to manage crisis situations; and client relationship management expertise.

Luckily these are also skills that can be developed and strengthened.

All of us working in public relations know that no two days are ever the same and, vitally that no two clients or communications assignments, are the same.  Public relations strategies and campaigns need to be resilient and responsive to issues that arise.  Increasingly, in our digital age, there is greater need for skilled public relations professionals to steer organisations through issues that arise without warning as a result of unhappy customers turning to social media with their dissatisfaction or poorly managed situations going viral thanks to citizen journalism and YouTube.  We all know of cases where sales and share prices have suffered instant and long term blows due to poorly managed crisis situations and bungled so-called apologies.

Public relations strategies and campaigns therefore need professionals at the helm who are skilled communications strategists who thrive under pressure.  That’s why many different personality types and backgrounds are needed in the profession, yet the skillset is the same.

Given the ever-changing political landscape, it is important that public relations practitioners understand the political environment in Ireland, its structure and its role in setting the news agenda. Many of us work with elected representatives and within the political structures in Ireland and the EU, including for issues management and public affairs.  There is also more legislation and regulations underpinning the work of public relations professionals including the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Aarhus Convention and tighter data protection laws.

The mass media also has a huge impact on the public relations profession. As a result, it is hugely important that all of us working within the profession can critically analyse the role and influence of mass media in contemporary society and the synergetic relationship of public relations and media professionals.

Taking the changing communications and regulatory landscape into account and given the growing prominence of the profession, the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) undertook a major review of its Diploma over recent years that included extensive consultation within the profession.  The Institute’s Diploma in Public Relations syllabus has thus been revised and updated to ensure it is relevant to current and future needs.  The Diploma will be delivered directly by the PRII from September (2017) by a team of knowledgeable lecturers who have strong academic backgrounds along with professional communications experience. 

The PRII Diploma is not just for those embarking on a career in public relations. It is also relevant to SME owners/managers who need to manage communications for their shop or practice, as well as for those involved in voluntary activities like being the PRO of a sports club.  I undertook the Diploma just five years ago, in the middle of my public relations career, to validate my extensive experience and to gain greater insight into the role of social media and digital PR.  Many of my colleagues in RPS Project Communications have also undertaken the Diploma and all found it gave a well-rounded introduction to the various strands of public relations. Some of them started out as engineers or environmental scientists. For them the PRII Diploma broadened their skillsets and provided strong insight into communications theory and strategy, as well as key practical skills, to develop their careers in another direction. In terms of business development, I find that the PRII Diploma also provides a well-regarded stamp of approval which is affirming for potential clients who increasingly seek for public relations professionals to have PRII accreditation and qualifications.

The PRII Diploma is only the beginning, in a fast-moving profession in a fast changing world, CPD is a necessity for the ambitious public relations professional conscious of delivering for clients and employers.  The PRII provides a wide range of certificates for experienced professionals including in Social Media, Internal Communications, Crisis Communications and Public Affairs, as well as one-day courses and workshops.

For more information visit

Neasa Kane-Fine, FPRII is a member of the PRII’s National Council and Chair of its Education Sub-Council

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