Research to identify the knowledge, skills and breadth of expertise required to sustain professional growth in an era of tight budgets has been initiated by the Institute for Public Relations in cooperation with the Media School at Bournemouth University in the UK. Results will be published on the Institute’s website (www.instituteforpr.org) in the first half of 2010.
The Institute for Public Relations is an independent non-profit headquartered at the University of Florida. It bridges the academic and professional fields, supporting public relations research and mainstreaming this knowledge into practice. Its educational programs include professional colloquiums for leaders in public relations. At the successful first European Professional Colloquium held at the University of Warwick in November 2008, thought leaders explored how corporations must adapt to thrive, particularly given the current global economic challenges.
“The focus for this research is the knowledge, skills, relationships, 360-degree vision and managerial abilities that senior public relations and communications professionals will need in five years,” said Robert W. Grupp, President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations. “As a profession, we need to do a better job identifying what it takes to prepare the next generation of leaders in globally integrated organizations.”
To explore these questions, Dr. Tom Watson, a member of the Institute’s Commission on Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation, and Dr. Chindu Sreedharan of the Media School at Bournemouth University in England have reviewed professional and academic literature. Shortly, they will undertake research among leaders in public relations who will be presented with a set of propositions about professional knowledge and expertise. Among the topics being explored are:
- Analytical skills required for PR professionals to become trusted senior advisors
- Competencies in strategic management that need to be part of senior communicators’ portfolios
- Proof of performance and demonstration of value of communication strategy to organizations
- Greater competency in culturally-sensitive communication
- Creation of social capital and the maintenance of an organization’s ‘operating license’
- The research is made possible by a grant to the Institute for Public Relations by The Coca-Cola Company.
“Public relations professionals need to ensure that communications is ever-more tightly linked to overall business strategy and less on organizational publicity,” Grupp added. “There also should be greater emphasis on mentoring by senior communicators for mid-level staff on problem-solving and organizational demands in order to develop them as trusted counselors, not just superior communications technicians.”
Dr. Watson commented that the challenges facing communicators are growing rapidly. “The reputation of organizations is increasingly challenged in this age of rapid response. Communicators need to be educated and trained on higher skills than ever before, and this research will identify the most important skills and knowledge areas,” he said.
At the Institute’s next European Professional Colloquium being organized in the first half of 2010, participants will discuss, critically review and validate the outcomes of the initial research and identify specific educational directions or training for future leaders of the public relations industry. Finally, a report covering the first three stages of the research will be published by the Institute.
Further information as well as presentations made at the Institute’s first European Professional Colloquium can be obtained at http://alturl.com/vwxw on the Institute’s website.