Monday, September 04, 2006

Accreditation Keeps the River of Learning Flowing

When water stops flowing, it becomes stagnant. Icky things start to form, like mosquitoes and foul odors. It can no longer nourish people.

The same things happen when we become complacent in our profession, when we stop pushing ourselves to learn more and when we take shortcuts rather than seeking new paths.

When we don't nourish ourselves professionally, we can't nourish our profession or the society we serve.

My friend Kami has been blogging recently about the value of accreditation (see "PR professionals should consider getting accredited"). And I just saw an excellent summary of the blogosphere debate at the Forward blog.

It's a topic that's been dear to my heart since I became accredited over a decade ago. So much so that I developed a training seminar for people who were interested in accreditation. Our chapter hosted the seminar several times over the years with folks coming from across the state to attend. Others in our chapter (like fellow Byline bloggers Monica Faulkenbery, APR, and Kami Huyse, APR) have since greatly improved the seminar.

Accreditation is important to me because professional development is important to me. I couldn't do my job well if I didn't keep learning how to do it better. And while I don't believe that accreditation is the sole answer to what ales our profession, I can attest to the fact that my employer's view of public relations became much more positive when she learned about our accreditation process.

In 1995, I was asked to write a little article for PRSA's Tactics about what accreditation had done for me. I just reread that article and found some statements that could have been written today:

"We are facing a new horizon. As a result of corporate downsizing, more and more people have created small businesses and freelance operations. The current trends of two-way communication, audience-driven messages and information on demand offer new avenues of opportunities in public relations. And computer technology, now more than ever, enables the average person to produce a publication. Anyone can put a sign on the door to advertise 'PR' services."

At the very least, accreditation demonstrates that you're not just anybody.

In that article, I also outlined some personal goals, "In [these] times, I want to be creative, trustworthy and effective."

Still true.

And I could never hope to get there by being stagnant.

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