In this day in age, it can be hard to tell a professional from an amateur. 

Many of us are opting to work from home, joined the freelance contingency or have a relaxed dress code.  It’s not unusual to meet in a hipster coffee shop as opposed to a swanky downtown office building or to meet someone with a hoody and a pair of converse teamed with ripped jeans versus a suited individual.

In the PR industry, there’s no barrier to entry which means technically you don’t necessarily have had to study to public relations to be gainfully employed.  In the instances of other Chartered professions such as architecture or accountancy, you will have gone through many years of study and exams to be qualified.

Anyone running around with a laptop and a phone can call themselves a PR person.  They might have a few hundred or even thousand friends, fans, followers or connections on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat but what skills do they possess when the going gets tough, when the client is demanding results, qualifying the ROI and in times of crisis?

PR done right can be magical, not because it’s Disney or Ab Fab where the world looks perfect and its party after party every night, but because public relations can have real power and influence.  PR can change behaviour, influence decision making, challenge perceptions and above all manage and build reputation.

Reading how to guides and having a go are all to be commended, because like most things in life practice makes perfect, but there are some things that you shouldn’t leave to chance.

When it comes to reputation whether you’re a large organisation and are faced with something mega such as the BP oil disaster or the horse meat scandal it pays to have experts on your side.  You might think that this will never happen to you, but one tweet can be detrimental to your reputation, it can instantly leave you with no or little custom and a negative impression in the public domain.

You will have built your reputation up over time, maybe even years so don’t leave it in the hands of amateurs.  It would be akin to giving an inflated balloon to a cat with sharp claws.

When seeking out the services of a PR professional ask them:

1.     Are they a member of a professional body such as The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)?

2.    Are they a Chartered Practitioner?

3.    How will they deliver impact for your business?

4.    Ask about what they have done for other or similar clients; they should be only too delighted to speak of their successes (they are PR people after all).