Public Relations

Public Relations (PR) concerns the reputation of organisations and individuals in relation to their public perception and the views of their various publics. It is an organised attempt to influence the behaviour and opinions of stakeholders and stakeholder groups, through short-term and long-term engagement activities.

PR can make or break an organisation, and its importance is increasing as social and digital media play an increasingly important role in shaping and sharing the opinions of its users. Good PR can transform a local organisation or product into a worldwide success, whilst bad PR can destroy a business in minutes. PR can also be used to develop a competitive advantage for organisations - helping to open up new markets, attract the best employees, and provide more access to funding and investors. Organisations of all types and all sizes, from sole-traders to international corporate giants, can benefit from the effective use of PR.

According to the Public Relations Consultants Association’s 2011 PR Census [1], the PR industry employs over 61,000 individuals in the UK and the industry is growing; in part due to the increasing importance PR professionals are playing in a more digital economy.

We worked with a broad range of Public Relations organisations and professionals, including the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), when developing the Public Relations National Occupational Standards (NOS) to ensure that they reflect industry needs and are fit-for-purpose. Key areas to be addressed within this suite of NOS include online reputation management, crisis management and online communications, all of which are growth areas within the PR industry [2].


The Public Relations NOS are designed to be used in all sectors and cover a range of key public relations functions. The comprehensive suite includes the following standards:

  • CFAPRE001 Develop an understanding of the organisation’s environment
  • CFAPRE002 Develop audience insights
  • CFAPRE003 Create and develop a public relations strategy for an organisation
  • CFAPRE004 Develop public relations plans
  • CFAPRE005 Implement public relations plans
  • CFAPRE006 Engage stakeholders
  • CFAPRE007 Engage with the news media
  • CFAPRE008 Engage audiences through digital, including social media
  • CFAPRE009 Engage internal audiences
  • CFAPRE010 Manage reputation
  • CFAPRE011 Manage public relations crises
  • CFAPRE012 Monitor and evaluate public relations outcomes

The NOS cover occupational functions at a number of levels of responsibility and complexity. They are relevant to anyone involved in the risk management process, including PR assistants, account executives, account co-ordinators, press officers, and digital communications officers.

Public Relations


QCF units have been developed to cover the knowledge and skills needed by those in Public Relations roles. Full details of available Public Relations qualifications in England, NI and Wales can be found at the Register of Regulated Qualifications. For qualifications in Scotland please visit the SQA. QCF units can also be accessed on their respective websites. A wide range of non-accredited training courses and professional qualifications are available in the public domain.  

[1] PR Today: 61,000 Professionals; £7.5 Billion Turnover, The Economic Significance of Public Relations, Centre for Economics and Business  Research Ltd, published by CIPR, 2011

[2] 2011 CIPR: State of the PR Profession Benchmarking Survey,


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