Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Accreditation for PR Practitioners

All of us want that the practice of public relations should be viewed as a bonafide profession, which its own body of knowledge, skills and abilities. If we do not demonstrate this exclusivity now, we risk forever to be equated either with the fixers or the liaison men, with the unprofessionals, and unethical practices of untrained so-called PR agents, tainting the very image of this practice. I shall like to reiterate the history of accreditation for PR practitioners in our country. It was way back in 1988 that Mr. K.S. Neelakandan, the then Director PR of Pfizer Limited, Mumbai, took the initiative and created India Foundation for PR Education & Research (IFPR). This was a registered as a trust in Mumbai, and the Board of Trustees included Mr. K.R. Hattangdi (Union Carbide), Mr. Anil Basu (Good Year), Ms. Ronjona Mukarji (Tata Steel), Mr. K.R. Singh (the then incoming national President of PRSI), Mr. C.V. Narasimha Reddi (Hyderabad), Mr. Farrrok Mulla, Mr. S. Bashiruddin (Osmania University), Mr. P.K. Akerkar (the then President Elect of IPRA), and Mr. J.M. Kaul, with Mr. Neelakandan as the convenor. The IFPR started a programme for DPR and APR which involved written examination, interview, and presentation of the case study. The first examination was conducted in 1988 in Mumbai, and yours truly, happened to top the list for APR examination at that time, and the first lot of APRs in the country. I think it was 15 or so PR practitioners at that time who had taken up the examination. The next year the number grew still further, as counsellors were appointed all over the country. I had the good fortune of being appointed the Counsellor for Chandigarh in 1989. A number of orientation programmes were also organised one of which was held in Kathmandu, where PR professionals from different countries also participated. This initiative however fizzled out as it could not sustain itself. The proposed effort of PRCI now should not meet the same fate, and considering the growing PR activity in the region, we should not have much of a difficulty in getting corporate support. I suggest the formation of IIPR, as an independent body with representatives from different societies like PRCI, PRSI, IPRA, PRCAI, and ABCI, who should act as the study centres to prepare those PR practitioners who are willing to take up the APR examination.The detailed recommendations made to Mr.K.Srinivasan, who is heading the expert panel for establishing such an institute for accreditation, can be downloaded from www.prsi.in/publications.html.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chandigarh Public Relations Department goes online

Public Relations Department of UT Chandigarh has gone on line with its website www.chdpr.gov.in. The website has links to all major national & international media, information regarding Right to Information and information about upcoming events in the city.

The credit of course goes to the dedicated team of officers in the UT Administration including Mr. Krishan Mohan, Secretary Public Relations, and the IT-savvy dynamic Mr. Vivek Atray who has joined the Chandigarh Administration as Director Public Relations & Tourism, after his successful stint as Director IT.

IT is an important technology component of the Public Relations practice today, and surely, this would further help in speeding up the process of delivery of news while giving access to the media to the important information about the Administration.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Getting a Bad Name for PR Profession?

For long the PR professionals have been cribbing about the bad name that the unprofessional, untrained, and unscrupulous elements have been bringing to the PR practice in the country. It is high time that the PR practitioners get together and do some PR for PR profession, especially when the MNCs and big corporates venturing into the Indian territory, go looking for the PR firms.

The reputation of the PR professionals is at stake because no organised attempt has been made to put in place a proper system for regulating the education and training in PR, setting the standards for best practices in PR, and an accreditation system.

Long time back, Mr. K.S. Neelakandan of Pfizer in Mumbai and several other PR professionals had set up the India Foundation for PR Education & Training. It was the most commendable initiative that fizzled out after about 4/5 years of active work in which all-India level examination was conducted for freshers and the practising professionals went in for Associate Fellowship in PR. A large number of publications, research papers, and case studies were also published by the IFPR, which was promoted by the Public Relations Society of India.

It is time to revive it. It is time to strictly adhere to the norms of PR practice and education, and evolve strict entry norms into professional bodies with a certification/accreditation procedure.

I invite all the like-minded PR practitioners to Chandigarh for a brain-storming session to evolve the system that can strengthen the PR practice in the country.

PRSI Chandigarh Chapter goes on-line

Chandigarh Chapter of Public Relations Society of India has gone on-line. This is perhaps the second chapter in India to have net presence after PRSI Chennai.

Over the past one month, the trial period has greatly improved interactivity amongst the members, keeping them in touch with each other, besides serving as a storehouse of information about the Chapter and PRSI, with important links to various other online resources, says Chapter Chairperson, Renuka B. Salwan.

It is a simple website that would be gradually upgraded once the entire information has been collated.

Log on to www.prsi.in for more information on PRSI and Chandigarh Chapter activities.