Public Relations Professional Licensing

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Licensing and The Public Relations Professional PR's Pioneers The public relations field has the opportunity to connect its past and present to garner a powerful future, by making the PR profession a licensed one. Since the time of such PR pioneers like Edward Bernays (1891 - 1995), argued to be the "father of public relations" and Ivy Lee (1877 – 1934) also argued to be the "father of public relations, PR practitioners have desperately fought to amass respect and maintain legitimacy in the eyes of the public and other professional groups. Bernays is of special interest because he pioneered the PR industry's use of traditional press techniques with the addition of psychology and other social sciences to design public persuasion campaigns. He proved that it took an expert to "engineer consent" as he termed it. Bernays spent many years trying to have the vocation of public relations licensed, elevating it, in his words, "to the level of a profession." Bernays stayed the course and in 1992 even introduced an eloquent bill to establish registration and licensing for PR practitioners. Unfortunately the bill did not pass, but the proposition of licensing was actively addressed, leaving the opportunity available for expansion. What Does Licensing Mean For the Professional? Highly regarded professions require a specialization that can only be gained and recognized through educational minimums, a certification process, and required responsibility to their profession and the public. This process is known as licensing. Real Estate Agents, Lawyers, Doctors and Accountants must be licensed to hold themselves as professionals to the public and to practice their vocation. The state of Michigan has over 1000 licensed professions and occupations. It does not say much for the PR practitioner that under the letter "P" on Michigan's license list, their profession is not listed. They fail to be recognized amongst a group, which includes pet groomers and package delivery services (See Table 1). Table 1- MICHIGANS DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AND INDUSTRY SERVICES REQUIRED LICENSING* (UNDER THE LETTER "P") List provided by The Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services Table 1- Michigan Licensed Occupations/Professions Under "P" Think about the standards by which you select a professional.

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