By Graham Robb

The trial of Max Clifford bought down the PR sector as a whole. He is shorthand for what many people think PR is - grubby, sleazy, show-biz and tabloid. Now the reputation of the PR sector is really in the hands of the thousands of high quality practitioners who believe that high quality communication for key client messages involve personal and professional integrity.

Recognition PR has recently undertaken - for the third time - the rigorous Consultancy Management Standard appraisal from the Public Relations Consultant Association. The PRCA is the guardian of industry standard and I am proud to be a member. Not many firms in the North of England are; for a small business like ours it is quite expensive and its quality appraisal is quite challenging. The upside is that it has caused my business to constantly evaluate its methods and procedures and assess the competency of the team. From a leadership point of view this is a never ending task but knowing there is an independent assessment of your ability is a spur to success.

During the final week of the Clifford trial - when his habit of hyping stories to the media combined with his predilection for grooming young girls for sexual favours was exposed to all - Recognition PR was being audited by a pleasant but nevertheless thorough and tough quality inspector from the respected firm Redfin on behalf of the PRCA. She interviewed me and my small leadership team for three hours and examined a large selection of our internal documentation to check we were doing what we said we were. At time of writing I don’t know our final score; except that we passed and that the pass mark is 75%. I will get a full report together with recommendations for further improvement, which I will take on board and incorporate into future planning.

The CMS is the hallmark of PR excellence. Combining elements of ISO9001 and Investors in People with criteria specific to a PR consultancy, it was introduced in 1998, and updated it for the modern workplace in 2005 and 2012. Today, it's an internationally-recognised accreditation, used by PR companies in 17 countries around the world.

How does a PR agency benefit from CMS? It's proof you have a well-run business, with all the correct systems and structures in place. It demonstrates to your staff you have a real commitment to their development. And, if you are looking to grow your business, CMS is an excellent tool for that growth.

How does a client benefit from CMS? Clients will have peace of mind they are buying a professional service from a PR company that's committed to excellence. They will also have the assurance that all CMS-accredited PR agencies are well-run businesses that adopt best practices in all areas of their organisation.

No PRCA member agency can rest on its laurels once it has attained the CMS standard. Accredited agencies are continually assessed and have a formal review every two years. If you are a client of Recognition or one of the organisations that deal with us on a regular basis you might be interested in more information about the CMS - See more at:


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