What do you want to achieve? It's a question I often use to help get to the bottom of things. When starting with a new client or project it is best to revisit the fundamentals – what is it you want to accomplish?
At the CIPR Scotland AGM in March it was a privilege to become chair of CIPR Scotland – in my case for the second time in 10 years. Since the AGM that same question has been in the forefront of my mind.
It's no secret I am enthusiastic and committed to the PR industry. I have always been passionate about striving for excellence both as an individual but also as part of the wider CIPR community and this has only intensified since becoming CIPR Scotland chair.
Having carefully considered my answer, in the year ahead I want to help energise and grow Scotland's PR network through a series of topical and insightful events while also supporting more members to sign up and move forward with their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and enhance their careers. I also want to encourage more of our PR and Public Affairs colleagues to join the CIPR.
But it's not all about me.
At the last CPD cycle (2015/16) 162 CIPR Scotland members completed their CPD, an increase of 26% from the year before. However the number completing CPD as compared to the Scotland membership is very low and represents less than 20% of the total membership. Does that mean that less than a fifth of our members don't have a learning or personal development plan and aren't updating their professional skills? Or are they participating in something other than the CIPR CPD scheme to keep pace with changes in our profession?
The importance of CPD cannot be underestimated, however it is entirely up to the individual whether to build on their skills year on year and to be at the top of their game as a professional PR person. You have to want it.
It can be easy to get comfortable. Settle into a job or a company, learn the role and stay within those boundaries. The CIPR and our CPD insight and resources provide a gateway to expand your learning and career beyond those confines.
CPD offers the industry as a whole the opportunity to grow, develop and refine expertise to further improve our credentials and accomplishments. Without it, individually and collectively we run the risk of de-skilling and falling behind. Our industry has changed so much over the past 5 years and that pace of change if anything is quickening. If we choose not to continually learn and keep pace with these changes we will get left behind.
The digital landscape is changing almost daily with new platforms, apps and tools making an impact on business, society and culture. Mastering the technology, anticipating digital disruption within the industry and working in partnership will help us stay ahead of the curve.
Last month I attended a 'Next Generation' session with PR students at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. I was encouraged by their drive and aspiration – glad to see the future of our profession is on course to benefit from the energy and innovation of the next generation. It was a real buzz to hear the recent graduates, now working in agencies and in-house, talk enthusiastically about how they learn something new every day in their job, the importance they place on continually asking "How do you do this?, What does this mean?" and how energised they were from learning new techniques.
We can all embrace new challenges, enhance our professional status and work to future-proof our careers with CPD. The CIPR CPD scheme offers us all an opportunity to record our learning and demonstrate to our peers and our organisations how we are keeping pace with change in our profession. Learning makes us better practitioners, leading and innovating for the benefit of the organisation and our own career progression.
So, I ask you, when it comes to CPD – what do you want?