In a bid to raise the standards of the PR industry, the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) is developing its own industry accreditation program.

While PRIA has a long-standing history of accrediting university PR programs, there has not previously been a standard of accreditation for individual PR professionals.

“We have a code of ethics which members of PRIA adhere to, but not everyone belongs to our organisation,” said Teri-Helen Gaynor, National President of PRIA.

“We have set up an accreditation committee which spans the whole of our profession, from academics, to practitioners, to consultancy groups and in-house staff. There really needs to be a look at accreditation not just for the universities and their courses, but on the individual level,” said Ms Gaynor.

The new committee will examine the Universal Accreditation Board system used by the American PR industry and consider how applicable these standards would be in the Australian context.

“It is a way of raising standards. At the moment, you can come out of anywhere and say ‘I work in PR, I’m a lobbyist or a government relations specialist,” said Ms Gaynor.

“What we are looking to do is to protect the reputation of the industry through accreditation.”

While awaiting details from the accreditation committee, VIVA!  Communications’ Principal, Kirsten Bruce, reflects on the growing need for PR practitioners to have a diverse skillset in the industry.

“Nowadays it’s critical that PR practitioners have a vast array of communication skills, from copy writing and editing, media relations and events management, to stakeholder engagement, advocacy, issues and crisis management, as well as strong digital and social media skills,” said Ms Bruce.

“Given the industry draws people from a variety of backgrounds, a professional PR accreditation program can serve to improve the overall quality and standards of our profession.”