The CIPR Advanced Certificate: A Step in the Right Direction…

Posted: August 10, 2011 in Opinion, Petersens News
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By Becci Gould, Account Executive

On joining Petersens PR last summer, with lots of work experience but limited knowledge of the industry, I decided it was time to up my professional skill set.

After considering studying a masters in PR before finding permanent work, the thought of another year of study wasn’t something that daunted me. After years of analysing texts and writing essays, I think I was perhaps even a little reluctant to leave my academic skills behind me.

So in September 2010, I applied for a GOWales Graduate Funding grant to cover half of my course costs and enrolled on the CIPR Advanced Certificatewith Cambridge Marketing College based in Bristol.

The year-long qualification involved CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) affiliate membership, 7 tutorial days  throughout the year (on Saturdays much to my dismay!) and 3 independent assignments.

Initially it sounded like a lot to tackle in a year but as soon as I got started I found that because I was learning so much that I could apply to my daily work, it wasn’t such a challenge after all.

Yes it was difficult to balance work and coursework at times, particularly with the first assignment which involved researching and writing two essays in two weeks whilst still carrying out my day to day work, however looking back it was definitely worth the effort.

Taking the course lightly would certainly be a mistake as it often involved giving up my spare time in order to attend tutorials and carry out research. I was lucky enough to have a lot of  support from my colleagues which enabled me to complete some of my workload within the office, which helped a great deal.

Fortunately, not to blow my own trumpet but I have also always been extremely organised so every assignment was planned and executed to ensure I had enough time to complete it without the frantic last minute panic to meet the deadline.

Although 7 tutorial sessions may seem like you’re left to your own devices for a good part of the course, the support I received from both my tutor, Peter Brill, and course leader,Heather Yaxley, was fantastic and I felt comfortable to approach either of them with any queries regarding the course itself or my professional development.

Every session, although relatively informal, was clearly planned to ensure we were able to cover each element of the course in detail using practical examples in addition to the opportunity for questions and feedback.

Each assignment was unique and focused on a particular element of working in the PR industry, whether it be studying key theories behind daily practice or planning strategic and creative PR campaigns, and therefore I completed the course with a wide range of both theoretical and practical knowledge which I could apply to my day to day work.

Although it has only been a few weeks since I completed the course, I can already tell how much it has helped me in the early stages of my career. Not only do I now know why we carry out certain activities for example, but I have also noticed a dramatic change in my confidence. I can now speak out in meetings and present my ideas with the firm knowledge that there is clear practical and academic grounding behind the points I am making.

I would urge anyone who is starting out in the PR industry to complete the CIPR Advanced Certificate as it is a great supplementation to practical development, and if nothing else if you succeed it is a fantastic confidence boost!

I will receive my final set of results in October 2011 so I look forward to seeing if all my hard work has paid off…fingers crossed!

Becci Gould, Account Executive , 2011

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