I respect Todd Defren. We have communicated both online and off, and I like his forward-thinking attitude and innovative approach to public relations. Plus, I just like him in general.
So, it might surprise some that we are having a bit of a friendly row.
Okay, so the disagreement, as friendly as it may be, is on.
I especially dislike the ball-and-chain metaphor that Todd used to represent accreditation, since I don’t believe my accreditation has tied my hands (or feet in this case) at all.
First, may I clear up some misperceptions about my point of view on this issue?
1.) I didn't say that there should be MANDATORY requirements. I said that, “all public relations professionals should consider getting accredited in public relations.” I also limited this to U.S.-based accreditation programs (APR and ABC). I have no knowledge about the state of accreditation in other countries, and I have heard some horror stories about paying for credentials, etc., with which of course I disagree. Also, I am admittedly not an expert on ABC, maybe Shel Holtz , whom holds the ABC designation, could give us some insight.
2.) I never said that those without the designation aren’t ethical and competent. I said, “Going through the accreditation process makes for better professionals.” And I reiterated in comments, “I know I prefer to work with people who are accredited, especially when they aren't a known quantity to me. But I know and respect the skills of many that aren't. So, it isn't an easy answer, I just think it is something that we should all do somewhere along the way.”
3. Also, I did not say that accreditation will fix all of the problems in our profession. However, I do think that the ethical practice of PR will improve the profession overall, and I think accreditation is a part of that puzzle with its requirement to know and agree to a code of ethics.
Not everyone has an innovative, ethical and competent mentor, boss and employer, such as Todd. Not by a long shot. Oh, and not all people work for agencies either, I spent most of my career on the client side, where you might have one or two people, at best. A lack of mentorship is another piece of the puzzle and another post.
Far from being a ball and chain that “force-fit[s] PR pros into the required learning & roles defined by a standards body,” the principles learned in the accreditation process are framework that encourage public relations professionals to think strategically – freeing them to be creative, while still making sense.
In other words, helping them ask some of the most important questions in public relations:
- Why am I doing (insert strategies and/or tactics)?
- How do they contribute to the overall goals of the project/organization?
- How will I know if what I am doing is successful?
- Is what I am doing ethical, how will it be perceived by important stakeholders?
If public relations practitioners asked these questions and acted on the answers, the profession would indeed improve. Accreditation is but a piece of the puzzle, but I believe it should be explored and celebrated instead of ridiculed and written off.