Get credit for what you already do: how and why I gained a year’s worth of Continuing Professional D

As we enter 2015, we ask Dr Barbara Gibson, ‎intercultural communication consultant, university lecturer, and CIPR International committee member, to shed a light on why you should make the CIPR Continuing Professional Development (CPD) a definite new year’s resolution. Setting an example – the ‘why?’

Dr Barbara Gibson
Dr Barbara Gibson

I’ll start with the “why” because I think motivation is the key to just about everything. I know that when I’m highly motivated, I can accomplish incredibly difficult things that I never would have thought possible. The proof of that is that I completed my PhD in 2014. But other things that really need doing, like organising my desk, get delayed indefinitely (and as I type this, I’m surrounded by piles and piles of chaos).

So why did I decide to give the CIPR’s CPD programme a go and work toward gaining Accredited Practitioner status? At this point in my career (more than 25 years of experience), it’s possibly not going to provide as much personal benefit to me as it would to a younger professional. It would be easy for me to brush it off, say that I don’t have time, that I don’t need it. But I actually believe very strongly in accreditation as the key to improving the professionalism of our field, and increasing our influence and impact. And I think those of us who are more senior have a responsibility to lead the way. If all the credible PR practitioners are accredited, accreditation becomes a de facto requirement to entering the field.

My second motivation was also a bit about leading by example. I knew that in my new role serving on the committee for CIPR International, I would be encouraging our group’s members to participate in CPD. So I wanted to know first-hand what the process was like, see how difficult it is. Without making any commitment, I took a look at the My CPD section of the CIPR website. I planned only to dabble with it. I took a few minutes to see what was required, and found it was a really easy process. In fact, I quickly realised that I quite possibly already had done enough in the past year to earn the required 60 points before the end of the programme year (February 28). So that became the strongest motivation, I could get the credit, support the profession, lead by example, with almost no extra work. That was the tipping point, I was fully on board now. So I started filling in the online forms to log activities, which brings us to the ‘how.’

An easy process - the ‘how?’ For each activity, you complete a short form. I found each one took about 15 minutes to complete, mostly because in requiring me to write 50 words about why I chose the activity and what I learned from it, I had to actually think about it. My first big chunk of points was my involvement in the committee (listed as CIPR Council/regional/sectoral group participation), which earns 20 points. That sense of accomplishment, being one-third of the way to the goal, provided the momentum to keep me going. Next I searched for an event I went to last summer at the House of Commons, a debate on wearable technology (5 points). Two more events I’d attended in the last couple of months added 10 more. Then I saw you can get points for reading CIPR Skills Guides, so I downloaded some that were of interest (the one on SEO best practice was especially useful for me), and read them and completed the activity logs. Still a few points short, but I knew I would have the chance to attend at least a couple of events before the February deadline. Then it hit me, I could probably get some credit for my PhD, so I filled in a ‘custom’ submission (which requires evidence, so I provided a link to my thesis and a scan of my PhD certificate). Done! A couple hours of work, and I’m good for the year and half-way to becoming an Accredited Practitioner. If I’d been doing the entries throughout the year, rather than all in one go, it would have been 15 minutes here and there, so even easier.

cpd

What I’ve proven to myself, and hopefully to you, is that there’s really no excuse not to participate in CPD. It’s not difficult, no matter where you’re located, and you’re probably already doing more than 60 points worth of development without getting credit for it. And if you need to fill in the gaps, that’s easy too. So I’m hereby challenging every CIPR member who isn’t already doing it to join me. If you hurry, you can have one year’s worth of points collected by the end of February, and be on track to being an Accredited Practitioner by the end of next year. Let me know if you’re in by leaving a comment, and we’ll keep each other motivated.

Want to know more? Visit the CPD section on CIPR’s website Check out the CPD handbook (PDF) which contains useful information on the scheme Save the date - CIPR International AGM is on 28 January - worth 5 CPD points!

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