Amith Prabhu: How PR professionals can upgrade their skills

14 Oct,2013

By Amith Prabhu


I recently got to know that to continue practising as a medical doctor in the US, one needs to take board exams and clear them every 10 years whatever the age of the physician. I have never heard of such a thing in India. Upon graduation a doctor can practise for life and choose to upgrade his or her skills only if they wish to.


Another fascinating thing I discovered couple of years ago is that for business communicators and PR professionals, two trade associations – IABC and PRSA offer a certification called the ABC and APR respectively. The day is not far when this will see a light of day. Just as the medical profession sees quacks emerging from time to time, the PR profession has seen such elements emerge who in their greed for money and power have tried to tarnish the reputation of the profession but have not succeeded quite well.


In this column, I hope to address a constant question I get asked by several people as to how does one upgrade skills periodically. My constant response is that one needs to budget for the same in terms of time and money and do it at one or both levels. Basic and Advanced. The basic level involves investing in good printed and online literature. This includes accessing case studies through pay walls especially from festivals like Cannes and also buying books on the profession whenever one gets a chance. Even buying and reading three books a year can set you up for success. If that is impossible, invest in four or five webinars annually and these are easy to attend.


I asked eight young professionals I met at Lavasa recently two random questions – a) Which was the last book on Public Relations they had read and b) How many books on Public Relations they had read in the last one or two years. The answer from all of them was negative. And I ensured they belonged to eight different organisations. While this takes care of the basic need taking time to read the print or online versions of at least two Indian and two international general interest magazines like Time, The Economist, Outlook, India Today will just add value. (By reading, I mean reading ten articles from these four in total). This is in addition to the business magazines and business dailies one reads anyway as part of work.


Moving to the advanced level of upgrading skills, there are two ways of doing this and these certainly need a lot of preparation and patience. The first is to do an international course online when one has completed 10 to 12 years in the business and has saved some money to make that investment. These courses do not come cheap. I have hyperlinked some of them for your benefit at the end of the column. But these are definitely worthwhile investments. Another option is to attend a global PR conference once every 4-5 years. While these do not offer certificates, the potent mix of knowledge and networking certainly makes a difference. One such conference I would strongly recommend is the Global PR Summit form Holmes Report in Miami which will see its second edition rolling out exactly a month from now. I was fortunate to be at the first edition and will hopefully be at the second. It is time and money well spent. Flight, stay and registration from India will cost about Rs 3 lakh if you already have a visa. But in three days, the exposure one gets is a big deal.


Travelling also impact one’s worldview in a big way and one should plan personal study trips within and outside India every 3-4 years. These are not holidays but educative excursions. Ultimately, an important aspect of Public Relations is about advising the organisation on how to best leverage existing and potential equations.


All these may seem expensive but with the right planning it certainly is possible. Here are seven links to explore investments that will make sense from a long term. In addition to these there are several universities in the USA and Europe which offer online programmes at the masters level.







PR Moment



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