Professionalism

To exemplify professionalism you must first be a professional.
Professionalism is “an attitude that motivates individuals to be attentive to the image and ideals of their particular profession.”[1]

C. E. VanZandt, a human resource development professor, indicates five areas of professionalism. Professionalism is:

1. the way in which a person relies on a personal high standard of competence in providing professional services


2. the means by which a person promotes or maintains the image of the profession


3. a person’s willingness to pursue professional development opportunities that will continue to improve skills
within the profession


4. the pursuit of quality and ideals within the profession


5. a person’s sense of pride about the profession.
[2]



What is a Profession?


A profession is defined as “a high-status occupation composed of highly trained experts performing a very specialized role in society.”
[3]


Donald Wright, APR, (1978) states in terms of professionalism, “public relations should be examined in terms of the individual and not the practice.”
[4]



Raising Professionalism in Public Relations


Public relations is a controversial field as it has often been questioned by society on whether it is a profession. One suggestion on how to attain this comes from Mark Brownell and Walter Neubauer Jr. in that “based on assumptions that higher levels of education lead to more sophisticated (accountability-oriented) approaches to public relations, which in turn lead to more professionalism, it would be useful to develop a method to categorize practitioners according to some hierarchy of professionalism which would also identify what training is needed to raise those in the lower levels to the higher levels”
[5]


Professional organizations such as the International Association of Business Communicators
and the Canadian Public Relations Society are an integral component to raise the level of professionalism among the industry.


Grunig and Hunt
(1984) state that “the majority of public relations practitioners since Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays changed the field in the early 1900s have argued, however, that public relations must become a profession.”


The results from a study of public relations professionals indicate that “considering the fact that professionalism and the role of adding to the common good – namely, corporate social responsibility – are very closely intertwined, it can be assumed that one of the primary reasons for PR’s lack of professionalism is the assertion that social responsibility is not valued among PR practitioners… socially responsible behavior is both a professional attribute and a valued course of action for public relations practitioners.”
[6]



Public Relations Professionals Exemplifying Professionalism


Vanzandt recommends that to be recognized as a professional there needs to be “autonomy, and have personal responsibility in conducting their professional duties. Their emphasis should be on service rather than on mere economic gain.”
[7
Taking the steps VanZandt recommends is one step in raising the professionalism of public relations professionals.
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[1] VanZandt, C. (1990).Professionalism: a matter of personal initiative. Journal of Counseling & Development. 68, 243 - 245.
[2] VanZandt, C. (1990).Professionalism: a matter of personal initiative. Journal of Counseling & Development. 68, 243 - 245.
[3]Wright, D (1978). Professionalism and the public relations counselor: an empirical analysis. Public Relations Review. 26-28.
[4] Wright, D (1978). Professionalism and the public relations counselor: an empirical analysis. Public Relations Review. 26-28.
[5] Brownell, M. & Neubauer, W. (1988). Toward increasing professionalism in public relations: an activity specific system for categorizing practitioners. Conference Papers - - Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, 1988 Annual General Meeting, p. 2 – 20.
[6]Sooyeon, K. & Reber, B. How public relations professionalism influences corporate social responsibility: a survey of practitioners. Conference Papers - - International Communication Association, 2007 Annual Meeting, p. 1-29.
[7]VanZandt, C. (1990).Professionalism: a matter of personal initiative. Journal of Counseling & Development. 68, 243 - 245.