Copyright 2017

29 May 2016

Is PR talent just ‘good enough’? Don’t feign surprise

Gregor Halff

Is our country unique, or do others face the same challenges? This is the most frequent question I get asked at public relations conferences in every continent. The conferences change (most recently organized by our members CPRP in Argentina, 1 September; the PRomise Foundation in India, 23-24 September, and the Institute for PR in Singapore, 13 October), but the question remains the same. And so does my answer: no, we all worry about which type of talent our industry will need in future and how we’re going to create that talent.

We all care about education. Or so we say, but the state of our industry’s talent speaks a different language: The quality gap between top and average PR talent is still much larger than in other functions or in professional services like accounting and IT. Meanwhile, the gap between curricula and practice seems to be equally persistent. Also, educators outside of the US and the UK rightly complain about the lack of locally relevant teaching materials, but continue to use the very materials from the US and the UK they complain about.

We should therefore not feign surprise when employers are disappointed about entry-level skills while job entrants are disappointed about their salaries. I suspect we’re collusively complacent in creating graduates that are merely good enough - and have been so for decades (maybe because our complacency helps to reduce the industry’s manpower costs and to increase the academy’s time for research?).

Together we can contain collusive complacency. The Global Alliance is involved in two projects that need your involvement from as many markets as possible:

1) Please take the 15-minute Commission on Public Relations Education survey on undergraduate public relations education. The results will inform CPRE’s report on the state of undergraduate PR education in the world. It will be the first such report in a decade and our aim is to make it the most global ever. Since 1975, the CPRE has been at the forefront of public relations education through publication of recommendations identified by an independent body of educators and practitioners. Today, the CPRE is a global community of 65 academics and professionals, including board members of the Global Alliance.

2) If your national association invites you to partake in a Delphi project, please do. It is the next stage of the work on the Global Capabilities Framework. The University of Huddersfield, the Global Alliance and scholars in your region need your help to find out: Is there a shared set of PR capabilities? Are there variations? And how could a capabilities framework be of practical value for talent development?

Delphi is named after the ancient Greek temple where the future was foretold. It had mirrors and smoke as well as priestesses uniquely capable of seeing through both. It’s time we colluded to develop the unique capabilities needed for the future of public relations.

Gregor Halff
Chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management

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