By Lee Cullen Chart.PR, MCIPR, Chartered Practitioner. Co-founder and Director at award-winning Cheshire agency, No Brainer.
Coming into public relations as a journalism graduate, I have to be honest and say the CIPR wasn’t even on my radar until I jumped the fence back in 2010.
I was aware of organisations like the NUJ and NCTJ, but writing in inverted pyramid style, mastering Quark Express and achieving a shorthand speed of 120 words per minute seemed more important than anything else back then!
Sadly it wasn’t enough and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t land my ideal job as a newspaper journalist. The first rung of the career ladder seemed completely out of reach and I honestly had no idea how I could make a living from my passion for writing.
By complete chance, I found myself with an opportunity to enter the world of PR with a financial services company. It’s fair to say that someone took a massive gamble on me – something that I’ll be eternally grateful for – and that’s really when I started to understand what PR was all about and the important role the CIPR played for the profession.
Fast-forward to the present day and I’ve sampled many sides of public relations, working in-house, operating agency-side and earning a living as a freelancer. Back in 2015, I combined all of that experience and took the biggest and best decision of my life when I decided to launch my own communications agency called No Brainer. The last couple of years have been a whirlwind, but I’m enjoying every minute and it’s fair to say the CIPR has made some important contributions along the way. Here’s my top three:
Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
We work in a fast moving, constantly evolving profession and those that don’t keep up with the pace will inevitably get left behind. The CIPR’s CPD scheme gives us practitioners the tools to keep our finger on the pulse, providing an ever-expanding bank of knowledge that can inform and inspire our work.
Throughout my career I’ve invested a lot of time in CPD, picking up new skills and brushing up on old ones. Gaining new expertise and being able to demonstrate it in the workplace definitely gave me the confidence to push for promotion and develop both personally and professionally.
The CIPR has also been pushing hard for greater professionalism in public relations and I think that’s essential if we as an industry really want to earn more seats at the top tables of business. It’s the reason I made a personal commitment to go for Chartered Practitioner status last year and I was absolutely over the moon to go home with a certificate at the end of the assessment.
CIPR North West
I’m a long-standing member of the CIPR North West committee and Chair of the Merseyside Plus sub committee, helping to organise events across the region and work closely with local members. It gives me a real opportunity to meet other practitioners from different of sectors, and I’ve also engaged with a number of universities and colleges to help young people understand more about PR as a career choice.
Being involved in the committee also gives me an opportunity to hear what’s happening on a national level and offer local perspective to influence decision-making. We’re fortunate to have a fantastic team in the north west and I genuinely believe our efforts are making a positive contribution to the industry in our region.
CIPR PRide Awards
As a profession, I don’t think we’re very good at stepping back to celebrate our own achievements and that’s why I’m a big fan of the PRide Awards. It feels like the one time of the year when everyone really comes together to take a night off and recognise outstanding achievements from across the region.
I was lucky enough to pick up an award in 2013 from the CIPR when I was named the north west’s ‘Young Communicator of the Year’. That accolade gave me some reassurance that my career was on the right track and it was an opportunity to really step back and appreciate the work I was doing, as well as the results I was getting for my clients. It also gained me a few LinkedIn connections!
I guess with all good membership organisations you only really get out what you put in, so I’d encourage more people to find out what’s happening with the CIPR in their areas and, if they feel they can contribute, why not get involved at a local level?
Maybe it’s not just about asking “what does the CIPR do for me?”. It’s also worth asking “what I can do for the CIPR?” to support the industry as a whole and other practitioners across the country.
Find out how CIPR membership will help accelerate your PR career.
There’s no joining fee if you come on board in March.