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Close up on Canada: Richard Truscott from the Canadian Public Relations Society talks about expectations, challenges and life-long learning

February 18, 2013


The Canadian Public Relations Society is a professional body working to maintain the highest standards and to share a uniquely Canadian experience in public relations. In our interview with Richard Truscott, the President of CPRS talks about expectations, challenges and life-long learning.



CPRS has an important history as the lead professional body in Canada. What do you consider will be role of CPRS in the future?


CPRS will continue to be a lead advocate for the profession and a valued source of professional development, accreditation, and networking for members.  Our underlying mission will remain the same, but with advances in communications techniques and technology, as well as the ever-changing expectations of public relations practitioners, the way in which we deliver value for members and speak out on behalf of the profession will continue to evolve.



On your website it is stated that “dealing with the perception of PR in the community” is one of the main challenges for CPRS in the future. In what ways is this task challenging?


One of the main ways it’s a challenge is because the value of professional, strategic, and ethical public relations is too often not understood or appreciated by the public or industry; at least not until there is a crisis situation, whether it involves government, a non-profit organization, or a business entity.  Too many people still equate public relations with publicity and manipulation.  In concert with other like-minded organizations around the world, our goal remains to continue to improve the professional stature of public relations. That challenge is obviously a long-term one, but in order to protect the interests of trusted, ethical, and professional public relations practitioners everywhere, we must persist. 



CPRS offers to its members several opportunities for life-long learning. Which are the main CPRS initiatives?


Our primary vehicle for life-long learning at the national level is our annual conference. We have also added a member-only national webinar series based on award winning public relations campaigns to complement the professional development events offered by local CPRS Societies.  And of course, there is our respected and highly valued voluntary program for Accreditation in Public Relations (APR™) administered by CPRS.  It helps to identify those practitioners who have the depth of experience and competence in the professional practice of public relations. The APR program has many other added benefits for CPRS and its members, such as establishing standards for professional practice, increasing recognition for the profession within the business sector and the community, and influencing the future direction of the profession.



Let’s focus on the relationship between CPRS and academia. How does CPRS support students who are interested in the PR and communication field?


We are focusing more and more on the entire career life-cycle of the public relations professional. For students, that means providing access to networking and mentoring opportunities, and exposure to what it means to be a professional public relations practitioner.  Of course, we also offer access to our Career File job lists, and students receive preferential rates to local CPRS networking and professional development events. 



In the last years CPRS has worked in coordination with post-secondary institutes across Canada and the outcome of this cooperation is “Pathways to the profession: An Outcomes based approach towards excellence in Canadian Public Relations and Communications Management Educations”, a comprehensive program published in 2011. What does this program consist of? In what ways can it be useful for program developers?


As a result of the work of our National Council on Education, we have adopted a new “Pathways to the Profession” framework.  It uses an integrated program planning model that includes an emphasis on program outcomes along with making recommendations for a course framework. The Pathways approach offers educational institutions a way to assess their own programs and provide context for ongoing and future curriculum development. This new framework will be highly useful for public relations program developers and educational institutions. As part of the Pathways model, we have also created a new certification process for public relations practitioners who are new to the profession called the Public Relations Knowledge (PRK™) exam. Those who successfully complete the PRK exam bring tangible evidence of their knowledge and readiness for the workplace as they begin or build their career in public relations.



Talking about measurement in PR, few years ago CPRS launched the “Media Relations Rating Points”, a new standard for measuring editorial coverage and Return on Investment (ROI). How has this tool been implemented so far? Is it still operational?


Working with a dedicated group of marketers and public relations agency managers, CPRS created the Media Relations Rating Points (MRP™) system in response to a growing need by Canadian public relations professionals for a new, standardized system of metrics to evaluate editorial media coverage. Since its launch in April 2006, MRP™ has become Canada's standard for earned editorial media coverage in our country. The system includes a media report template and an evaluation tool for obtaining up-to-date accurate reach numbers.  The service is offered at a discounted rate for CPRS members and has seen significant uptake since it was launched.



In June CPRS will hold its 2013 National Conference on the theme “Change the conversation”. What issues and topics will be explored at this key event?


The CPRS National Conference in Ottawa-Gatineau in June 2013 will dive into key themes of public relations and communications management, specifically vision; planning and research; production and implementation; measurement; and future outlook.  More than 20 keynote presentations and workshop sessions will help frame the conversation over three days. As with all CPRS national conferences, there is also a strong social event and networking aspect.  This year’s festivities include a special dinner event at the world famous Byward Market near Parliament Hill, a visit to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, and the National Awards Gala on the final night of the conference to celebrate the best in Canadian public relations and communications management campaigns.