PR: a licensed profession?

In any profession it is important to that others see you as credible and trustworthy in what you do. This should not be any different when it comes to PR. Like any other profession, specific skill sets are important, and it is important for people to easily be able to recognize that a person has these skill sets. Guided standards are important and give the profession credibility. That is why it would be good to go forward in making public relations a licensed profession.

What does it mean to be a licensed professional?

  1. Professions have standard education requirements (not necessary in PR currently) – PR professionals will need to have at least 4 years of college.
  2. Draw upon a substantial body of knowledge
  3. Requires standardized testing

Licensure would give the public, organizations, and companies more confidence in PR professionals because it would ensure that they are knowledgable. According to Bernay’s education and the development of a vocation go hand and hand. In addition to this, it would protect the profession and integrity and pride in the field. Some may say that PR becoming licensed would puts restrictions on the profession. My reply would be that licensure would not take away the high demand for PR professionals, and there would still be a lot of opportunity in the field. In fact, it could create even more opportunity, especially for women. If it was to become a licensed profession with standards, then it would be easy for a licensed women to argue equal pay and so forth. Also, licensure should increase ethics in the field, which would in turn increase the field’s integrity and cause the public to be more open to listening to companies and organizations through crisis.

For now it will be important for practitioners to seek accreditation, as it is a step towards PR becoming licensed. To date, approximately 5,000 practitioners have earned APR status, or 18% of the PRSA’s membership. Approximately 10% of IABC’s 15,000 members have earned its ABC designation. However, in the words of Bernay’s PR “has reached its rubicon.” Let’s move it forward!

For Edward L. Bernay’s complete argument for why PR should be licensed read his call to action.

The following are organizations that currently work to increase the credibility of the field and train professionals: PRSAPRSSAIABC, and IPRA.