Communication Consultancy Management Standards and Audit

PRCA, United Kingdom member association of the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO) aimed to create a common quality standard for member communication consultancy companies between 1994 and 1996. As a result, CMS (Consultancy Management Standards/communication consultancy management standards) was created in 1996 and it was approved by the PRCA Board of Directors in 1997. With this approval, it was also decided that all PRCA member companies would have been passed through the CMS auditing until December 31, 2000. DNV Quality Assurance Company, a fully independent international auditing company based in London, was identified as the authorized auditor company.

After the UK, Turkey, with PRCI member companies, became the second member of ICCO, to pass the Communications Consultancy Management Standard (CMS) audit. PRCI member companies had their first audits by DNV Company in October 1999 and received the CMS Standards certificate.

In time, Communication Consultancy Management Standards (CMS) were extended to all ICCO member companies and professional organizations, whether voluntarily or obligatory. CMS audit has been accepted as a necessity by İDA for all its members.

CMS Quality Standards covers minimum standards for a communication consultancy company. The statement, “Quality improvement is a never-ending process and even the highest quality can always be improved” was accepted by the three major public relations organizations (IPRA, ICCO and CERP) at Helsinki World Public Relations Summit in 1997. Therefore Communication Consultancy Management Standards (CMS) are being continually developed. The second update of the standards was done in 2003 and the third update was shared simultaneously as CMS III with all ICCO member countries in 2012.

CMS III audit criteria, performed by an independent expert, contain 8 main areas:

1- Leadership and Communication

Here the auditor reviews the evidence about whether the company is managed in a proper way or not. Within this context, job descriptions should be clearly made at all hierarchical levels in the organization. All employees should fully understand their responsibilities and they should know the procedures and timing for their performance assessment.

2- Business Planning

Communication Consultancy Company must prove that it has a realistic and a long term business plan, based on a clear assessment of its business target and potential. This plan must be unique, measurable, applicable, and valid and should include business targets within the context of time. Company management should regularly refer to this plan during its business operations.

3- Business Development

Communication Consultancy Management Standards (CMS) makes it necessary to have a continuous business development plan, which includes long term objectives with clearly defined stages to achieve them. Communication Consultancy Management Standards’ (CMS) key values are; trust, excellence, professionalism, commitment and owning. All these values affect the quality of communication consultancy services for clients.. These should be measurable and enhanced in every 3 or 5 years.

4- Financial Systems

The financial systems of the communication consultancy company are assessed on the basis of, financial forecasting and key financial data of the management. In order for the communication company to survive during low or negative growth periods brake and balance systems should be in place., The key financial ratios should be monitored on a regular basis to enable the company invest in its future.

5- Campaign Management

Communication Consultant Company should prove that it has systems to plan and manage communication programs to achieve agreed targets and to measure and evaluate their results.

6- Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction should be measured in a consistent and persistent manner.

7- New Business Development

As the communications consultancy company conducts negotiations with new business candidates it should prove that the contracts it offers are compatible with ICCO standards and current best practices of public relations.

8- Human Resources Management

Communication Consultancy Company should have clearly defined and comprehensible assessment, in house training and career development programs for its employees. At every stage of the recruitment, the company should also provide accurate evidence that it has high standards and investment level for the related field. CMS is reviewed every 2 years.