On February 28th Ferpi – the Italian Association of Public Relations – began the process of defining the UNI standard for the certification of the Professional Communicator, as an international recognition of the profession. Rita Palumbo hosts in her column an ​​intervention by Eliana Lanza, coordinator for Ferpi of the UNI Working Group.

by Eliana Lanza

In a social and economic context in which the profession of the Communicator is increasingly defining its peculiarity, the launch of the procedure for defining the UNI (Italian National Unification Authority) standard, which defines the features of the Professional Communicator, takes on a particular significance, also for public relators.

At the UNI headquarters, on February 28th 2019, the working group chaired by Ferpi met with the task of determining – through knowledge, skill, competence and experience indicators – the requirements that describe the Professional Communicator. It is through such a defined standard that communicators can obtain an internationally valid profession certification.

For Ferpi this means completing the process of enhancement of the profession that began with the recognition of compliance with Law No. 4/2013 – which regulated professions not organized in Orders or Boards and provides for voluntary self-regulation for the qualification of professional figures. Establishing that a work activity can be qualified also through the certification of professional figures, issued by an accredited body (Accredia, sole accreditation authority for certification bodies), in accordance with the UNI standard defined for that specific function, represents a novelty for the Italian legislative landscape regarding professions.

In fact, we move from an administrative approach, based on the order system or, in any case, on authorization procedures, to a different approach, more related to the market. The third party certification of an accredited system compared with a certification unilaterally issued to its members by an order, although a prestigious one, determines a paradigm shift. It means taking the deontology as a quality discriminator and giving value to the guarantees for the users and for their own reference market on the provided service.

For Ferpi, joining  a positioning logic, which focuses on stakeholders, market and decision makers, is consistent with what has been done to support the profession over the last 50 years and a confirmation of how much the professionals who recognize themselves in our association have pursued in their activities.

Therefore, in an information market with faint borders and real problems of recognition of truthfulness, being able to obtain a recognized certification as an indicator of quality of service provided within the sector and internationally, represents a turning point designed to define a line of demarcation in the identification of the professional communicator as a focal subject in the communication processes of companies, organizations, and associations.

Ferpi’s commitment to ensure that the UNI standard of reference effectively responds to the composite professions that can be identified in the profile of professional communicator is initiated by a request for choral reflection on the role definitions currently used with the intention of applying them to the regulatory scheme.

In the first step of the course – the pre-normative form approved at the end of January – the role of the professional communicator is defined as a managerial activity with a strong intellectual content, aimed at defining communication objectives as a strategic asset for the development of institutions, public organizations , private and non-profit organizations, and individuals. This is the staple from which the profiles and functions of the communicators are defined with particular attention to creating correspondence between what is actually requested and applied by the market and what the Standard prescribes and to a correct description also of the new skills that the use of digital channels has created.