9.01.2006

To be accredited, or not to be accredited - that is the question

There has always been debate about accreditation - it is neither new nor near an end in terms of resolution. I agree with Kami Huyse, Accreditation Chair for PRSA San Anonio that there are many great reasons why PR practitioners should seek accreditation.

Not the least of which is that it builds not only a benchmark for the way we employ our PR skills, it sets a benchmark for the way organizations choose to us PR in their environment. The key here is that it is a choice.

Accredited PR professionals still need to make the choice to practice ethically and organizations choose to ask them to act ethically. The same can be said about the deployment of PR as a management function and PR programs that link to organizational goals. In this, I also agreed with Todd Defren and his position opposite Kami Huyse.

Despite it's many benefits - accreditation is not the panacea for PR's image problem.

Perhaps I'm a masochist as I choose to practice PR/Marketing at a law firm. That's two of the three least trusted professions out there. The professional designations lawyers required do not prevent them from being bad lawyers or making unethical decisions. Of course, they can be censured or disbarred - but punishment is not a remedy in this situation as they already know those two disciplinary actions are in place BEFORE they do shoddy work or act unethically.

(Beyond this, if your only motivation to act professionally is the threat of discipline then you haven't reach a particulary high level of moral development. )

Undoubtedly, the path to accrediation is a learning process, but I know of a number of excellent practitioners who push themselves on a daily basis to do better and know more about what they do while not on a track to receive accredition.

My point - and I think I have one - is that whether or not you choose to get accredited, you still need to choose to act professionally.

2 Comments:

Blogger SB said...

I think you're right that neither accreditation nor advanced degrees automatically bestow respect upon a profession. The thing that PR people, lawyers and politicians have in common -- and I think the common source of public mistrust -- is that, by the nature of these professions, we have to represent clients (or a polity/special interests) when we speak. O.J. Simpson had a right to an attorney, for example, and Johnnie Cochran performed well as an attorney to get O.J. off. But I could never respect Cochran after that. There's a general feeling that PR people and lawyers will say anything their clients want them to say to succeed, and that politicians will say anything to get elected. From the moment people beginning speak for others instead of themselves, people begin to get suspicious.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Kami Huyse, APR said...

I agree that each individual still needs to make a choice, and I pointed out in my response to Todd that I don't belive in mandatory accreditation, too many First Ammendment questions there. I do believe that accrediatation is a sign of a commitment to ethical standards, and the more people that go through the process, the more likely they will be to at least know the ethical standards. Now, if people actually follow them is an open question. Still, I think it is much better than nothing, and for those with the credential, gnorance is no excuse.

7:24 AM  

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