The public relation body's latest 'State of the Profession' report finds a paradox threatening the future of the industry
Andrew Cave is a freelance journalist, who writes the weekly business profile in The Sunday Telegraph as well as several other regular features for the Daily Telegraph. He has recently published his first book, The Secrets of CEOs
Public relations is at a crossroads, with an alarming contrast between the wishes of communicators to be regarded as professionals and an unwillingness to achieve formal qualifications.
That's one of the main findings of this year's benchmarking 'State of the Profession' report from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
Based on interviews with more than 2,500 public relations professionals, the report found that 90 per cent of respondents wished to be acknowledged as "professional".
However, the CIPR said that the report's other findings 'indicate a practice which seemingly struggles to embrace its desired professional ambitions'.
It said this was illustrated by a low level of academically or professionally-qualified public relations practitioners and an overwhelming preference for "on the job" experience as the most important indictor of professional standards.
One in three respondents also said that the biggest challenge to public relations in the next five years will be an expanding skill-set required of professionals.
'Embracing all facets of professionalism will bring about a fundamental change in how public relations practitioners are perceived,' said Stephen Waddington, CIPR president.
'Without a shift to professionalism, the reputation of public relations will continue to suffer.'
The report found that the integration of public relations and marketing communications departments appears to be on the increase.
More than two-thirds of survey respondents said they are now working more closely with at least one other department than they were two years ago.