The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has just released its ‘State of the profession survey 2013/14’. Several interesting points emerge.

Optimistic picture

The study reveals an optimistic picture of the communications business. Most agencies are recruiting and only 3% are making redundancies – suggesting that clients are investing in campaigns once again.

This is backed up by the fact that 75% of agencies are pitching for new business more than or as much as last year. All strong, positive indicators of economic confidence.

The study sheds light on the main areas of activity being undertaken: agency consultants are more likely to be involved in media relations and business strategy than anything else.

The findings about the main areas of client spend align with this. The biggest single area by far is media relations representing 49% of budgets. Compare this to social media, which is getting only 5%.

It’s an interesting reality check when the hype would often lead you to believe that social media has eclipsed traditional media as a dominant marketing channel.

Professional standards

It’s little surprise that 94% of respondents feel that being considered professional is important. I wonder why the other 6% don’t care.

Nor does it surprise me that most (68%) think experience is the most important quality to have.

What I find bizarre is that the CIPR takes this – alongside the finding that ‘only’ 44% have vocational qualifications – to conclude that it’s an industry “which hasn’t yet realised its own professional ambitions.”

The Institute talks of a sector that “seemingly struggles to embrace its desired professional ambitions … emphasised by the low level of professionally qualified practitioners in PR and an overwhelming preference for experience as the most important indicator of professional standards.”

Why on earth does the CIPR think a diploma more important than experience?

Professionalism is about high standards, astute understanding and the ability to contribute to organisations’ performance at a fundamental level.

For this, deep experience is essential – along with an analytical approach, a powerful quality ethic and great dedication.

Compared with these, a PR diploma is, at best, a small bonus.