CIPR Specialist Diploma – Digital Communications
The aim of the CIPR Specialist Diploma (Digital Communications) is to enable candidates to
develop knowledge and expertise in how social media and digital communication are integrated into strategic public relations planning and management.
The CIPR Specialist Diploma (Digital Communications) will be of interest to PR practitioners working in public relations, corporate communication, marketing communication, internal communication, public affairs and media relations, who have experience or responsibility for digital communication, in consultancy or in-house, or in a related discipline within the strategic management framework.
This qualification will equip the candidate with the knowledge and tools to contribute effectively to the organisation’s strategic management of digital communication and social media while meeting what is expected of an ethical practitioner in complex situations.
Candidates will research and develop ethical digital communication and social media management strategies and plans that assist organisations to enhance and protect their reputation and to achieve their strategic objectives. Candidates would be awarded the CIPR Specialist Diploma (Digital Communications) on successful completion of the assessment.
The syllabus is taught and assessed at the same level as a postgraduate degree.
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Tuition fee: £1349 +VAT | CIPR Awarding body fees: £330 | CIPR registration fee: £75
Level 7 | Postgraduate Degree | 10/11 SQA
6- 8 months
Newcastle | Carlisle | Edinburgh | Leeds
Next Start Date
Cohorts due to start week commencing 20th April 2020 | Leeds cohort starting on 17th March 2020
The Specialist Diploma (Digital Communications) covers topics including:
- Explore the disruptive and transformative impact of digital technologies on society, business, organisations and individuals.
- Understand the concepts and tools employed in strategic public relations planning with specific emphasis on the role of social media and digital communications management.
- Manage digital and social media activities and engagement with stakeholders and online communities, and consider legal and ethical implications.
Successful candidates will be able to:
1. Explore the disruptive and transformative impact of digital technologies on society, business, organisations and individuals:
- Examine the effect of existing and emerging digital technologies on communications
functions and operations including ethical implications and sustainable development of digital literacy and leadership capabilities.
- Examine the impact of trends in digital communications usage including media
convergence, citizen journalism, social media influencers and stakeholder activism on organizational communication.
- Use relevant frameworks, tools and techniques to analyse trends in online behaviour, media consumption, online user profiling, and the formation of network communities.
2. Understand the concepts and tools employed in strategic public relations planning with a specific emphasis on the role of social media and digital communications management: Examine the range of concepts, models and tools to research external and internal environments to identify stakeholders and influencers and the issues affecting an organisation;
- Identify digital and social media tools, technologies, and platforms to improve stakeholder engagement issues management and crisp responsiveness;
- Explore how to develop and manage audience-centred content and the role of owned, third party and user-generated multimedia content.
- Match communication strategies to specific platforms, technologies and channels (for example, Enterprise Social Networks).
3. Manage, plan, monitor, measure and evaluate digital and social media activities and
engagement with stakeholders and online communities, and consider legal and ethical
- Determine appropriate integrated digital communication management approaches across platforms and technologies (including resource requirements);
- Assess relevant methods of evaluating digital communication strategies and plans (including outputs, outcomes, impact, data analytics, insights and reflective practice);
- Critically reflect on privacy and security issues and legal responsibilities in areas such as online tracking, behavioural profiling, data protection, digital security, and social media usage;
- Evaluate the ethical implications of the use of digital communications in developing,
implementing and evaluating PR strategies and tactics.
The Specialist Diploma (Digital Communications) assessment;
Assessment: Executive report and summary situation analysis
Aim: To enable candidates to demonstrate competence in undertaking an analysis of case study situation/issue.
Topic of inquiry: Candidates will be required to evidence professional judgement in identifying a suitable case study as their chosen topic of inquiry. This could be based on the candidate’s own organisation, a client, or another organisation of the candidate’s choice that can be associated with social media and digital communication activities.
Submission: The assignment will comprise:
1. 3,000-word (+/- 10%) executive report comprising:
a) A clear and concise statement defining the case study situation/issue, justifying its relevance as a problem or opportunity facing a specific organisation and/or sector, and verifying that it can be addressed by a digital communication strategy.
b) Overview of the tools and techniques used to collect and analyse evidence regarding the CIPR Specialist Diploma (Digital Communications) (v1) March 2019 Page 3
situation and provide insight into its current or potential impact on the organisation and/or sector and its stakeholders.
c) Discussion and substantiation of the key findings and outcome of the research and analysis which will advise the development of a communications strategy;
d) Creation of a set of digital communications objectives (based on the findings and outcome of the research and analysis conducted) and a brief statement of how the objectives can be measured.
2. Supporting 2,000-word (maximum) statement of reflection including critical examination and evaluation of:
- The research methods (including digital tools and techniques) used to analyse and gain insight into the case study situation;
- Concepts, models and frameworks relevant to digital communication and social media used to inform recommendations
- Ethical concerns and responsibilities that emerge for PR practitioners using digital communications and social media to address the case study situation.
3. A reference list of sources using an appropriate, consistent method of referencing. Completion of the assignment involves the following activities:
- Reflection – candidates are required to use problem identification concepts and approaches to identify a relevant topic of inquiry. This will be a current issue of concern (or opportunity) for a specific organisation and/or sector and may relate to the candidate’s own experience.
- Fact-finding – candidates are required to undertake data collection using a range of
secondary research methods (literature, archives, published surveys, reports, etc.) to
examine the chosen topic of inquiry.
- Insight – candidates are required to use a range of appropriate models, tools and methods to analyse the external and internal environment, the organisation or societal issue and relevant stakeholder groups.
- Communication – candidates are required to review and structure their analysis of a situation in the form of an executive report.
Increasing engagement with online patient support groups
Establishing an effective social listening function
Developing an online reputation management strategy
A substantive response is necessary to meet the requirements for a Pass.
Bibliographies and footnotes are not included in the word count. Footnotes must not contain appendices or be used to include additional text that should have been in the main body of the work.
The word count must be recorded in the appropriate space provided on the cover sheet and at the end of the text in the main document.
Candidates are allowed a +/- 10% leeway on the word count for the executive report. Anything outside this allowance will be penalised and may result in the assessment being graded Fail.
Teaching Centres must provide guidance to candidates on appropriate referencing conventions.
- CIPR website www.cipr.co.uk
- CIPR Specialist Diploma (Digital Communications) CourseRegulations
- CIPR Specialist Diploma Student Handbook
Who’s it for and what are the enrolment criteria?
This course is aimed at experienced public relations practitioners who want to develop their expertise in the area of digital communications.
You qualify for the Specialist Diploma (Digital Communications) if you hold one or more of the following:
- CIPR legacy Advanced Certificate or the Professional PR Certificate
- CIPR legacy Diploma or Professional PR Diploma
- 1 of the following plus 1 year’s relevant full-time employment in public relations (or related sectors, e.g. marketing, journalism) and 5 GCSEs (at grade C or above, or at grade 5 or above), one of which must be in the English language*:
- Specialist Certificate (Internal Communications)
- postgraduate professional qualification in a related discipline (e.g. CIM diploma)
- UK Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a PR-related discipline: business, marketing, management, communication, media or journalism.
- 1 of the following plus 2 years’ relevant full-time employment in public relations (or related sectors) and 5 GCSEs (at grade C or above, or at grade 5 or above), one of which must be in the English language*:
- CAM Advanced Diploma in Marketing Communication
- NCTJ Diploma
- UK Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in any other subject
- Pearson LCCI Level 3 Certificate in Public Relations or equivalent qualification that comprises level 3 subjects in PR, marketing, advertising, and principles and practice of management.
- 4 years’ relevant full-time employment in public relations (or related sectors) and 5 GCSEs (at grade C or above, or at grade 5 or above), one of which must be in the English language*
Relevant experience should include at least 50% of the following:
- PR planning and crisis management / managing the PR aspect of a potential crisis situation
- planning, developing and implementing PR strategies
- organising events including press conferences, exhibitions, open days and press tours
- researching, writing and distributing press releases to targeted media
- coaching client representatives in effective communication with the public and with employees
- preparing and delivering speeches to further public relations objectives
- establishing and maintaining co-operative relationships with representatives of community, consumer, employee, and public interest groups
- preparing or editing organisational publications for internal and external audiences, including employee newsletters and stockholder reports.
- If you don’t have sufficient experience in these areas, the Professional PR Certificate may be a better starting point for you.
* Those whose first language us not English must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the language (spoken and written) to an International Language Testing System (IELTS) band score of 6.5 or equivalent.
Available in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Carlisle from 20th April 2020
Leeds cohort starting on 17 March 2020
Day 1: 17 March | Day 2: 31 March | Day 3: 19 May | Day 4: TBC
Leeds from Leeds Law Society, 62 Wellington Street, Leeds LS1 2EE
Newcastle from nesma, 19 Lansdowne Terrace, Gosforth, NE3 1HP
Carlisle from The Guild, 5 Abbey St, Carlisle, CA3 8TX
Edinburgh from Jurys Inn Edinburgh, 43 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DH
This Diploma is taught over 4 x 6 hr day time session taught over 2-3 months.