IABC offers many opportunities for members to sharpen their communication skills, and certification is one of the most valuable ways to become a more confident communicator and earn your seat at the executive table.
The Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC) has developed two certifications, the Communication Management Professional (CMP) certification and the Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) certification. Here, six recent CMP certificants, who serve in corporate, university and military settings, share why they pursued CMP certification, specific tips for preparing for the exam and how they believe their careers will grow with their newly achieved designation.
Learn more about their road to certification, including the IABC resources that helped them prepare, the study groups they formed and how going back to the basics of communication theory reinforces knowledge.
Why did you choose to pursue the CMP certification?
Carla Putnam Kerr (CPK): Strategic communications is an essential business function, and I feel strongly that we should be regulated as a profession the same way accountants and HR professionals are. Priya Bates, a fellow Canadian and IABC member who I admire, articulates this more eloquently than I ever could: “We must have respect, understanding, opportunity, a relationship with leaders and a seat at the coveted decision-making table. Participating in a certification program like GCCC's helps us all move forward, legitimizing our work and demonstrating our value.”
Ron Flanders (RF): I am a U.S. Navy Public Affairs Officer and decided to pursue the certification because the Navy values professionalization in its communicators. The CMP certification is internationally recognized, and I believe it will help me both in the military and when I transition to a private sector public relations position.
Nick Wilson (NW): I decided to get CMP certified to improve my career prospects.
Kelsey Huff (KH): The business communication profession often struggles to get the recognition it deserves. Certifications like IABC’s CMP and SCMP help solidify the profession as a critical business need, and those who are certified are trusted business-minded voices at the big table. I chose to pursue the CMP certification to advance my career, paving the way to be a trusted strategic adviser to the executive team.
Anne Molloy (AM): I have a marketing and communication background, and I thought this certification would enhance my current knowledge, experience and qualifications.
Andrew Blunt (AB): I attended an IABC webinar about GCCC accreditation last year, and the CMP certification really spoke to me. I’m already a fan of investing in my professional development, and it made sense to gain an international certification that encourages and acknowledges the variety of professional development we undertake to stay current.
Preparing for the SCMP Exam: Advice From Recent Certificants
Three recent SCMP certificants share why they pursued SCMP certification, how they achieved the designation and where it can take their careers.
In preparing for the exam, what were some practices you found most useful?
CPK: Preparing for the exam was tough! I found it helpful to incorporate aspects of my refreshed knowledge into my everyday communication planning to help reinforce my knowledge. I also read as many Catalyst articles as I could. One resource in particular that I found invaluable was this webinar, as it outlined what to expect with the exam.
RF: The benefit of having this designation is the international recognition that I have the knowledge and skills to manage communication efforts in business, nonprofits and my current job in the Department of Defense. I know that CMP is recognized, and it will be on my resume going forward.
KH: As I was prepping for the exam, one of the best resources I found was Communication Management Professional (CMP) Refresher Learning Path from the IABC Academy. Not only did the courses from the academy help me prepare for the exam, but they also helped me evaluate and shift my own perceptions and practices making me a better, trusted and respected communication professional.
AM: I prepared for the exam with the IABC New South Wales study group, identifying our areas of expertise and sharing knowledge and insights. Sharing study notes with each other was so helpful. Preparing for this exam reminded me to go back to the basics of various communication models and theory. Sometimes we are working at such a fast pace that we don’t have time to check the relevant models and do the relevant research, we just have to get it done. This preparation really reinforced the importance and value add of communication.
AB: To help its members prepare for GCCC exams, the NSW IABC Chapter organized a weekly study group where we took turns discussing different topics. Not only was it a great chance to explore different topics and get to know different members, but we really bonded. It made it a lot easier going back into an exam room, as it felt like you had peers who were cheering you on.
To study, I recommend reading the IABC textbook as soon as possible. No, seriously — start reading it bit by bit. I only just finished the last chapter before I went into the exam and wished I had started reading it earlier.
Create your own practice questions. I really enjoyed trying to make up my own questions using my notes. Not only did it get me in the mood for an exam, but it made me really process the notes I had written.
What do you see as the benefit of having this designation? Any changes in your professional life since becoming certified?
RF: Currently, I am a full-time graduate student at the Naval War College, so there aren't any changes in my professional life, but I feel incredibly honored to wear the CMP designation on my sleeve.
NW: This designation has changed how I see internal and external communication. They must have measurable impact on your organization's strategic objectives. This was my real takeaway, which is a total game changer for how I do my job.
KH: I’ve only been certified for a short time, but I am already enjoying the benefits of an extended network of likeminded professionals.
AM: On reflection, I have shared this with my team as a key learning and we are trying to allocate time to check the foundation of our recommendations and to do more employee research to inform our internal communication.
AB: It’s given me confidence in my skill as a business communicator.
Ready to become certified? Visit the IABC website to learn how you can get started with CMP or SCMP certification.
Andrew Blunt is a communications specialist for the University of Sydney.
Ron Flanders is a U.S. Navy public affairs officer.
Kelsey Huff is a communications specialist for BWX Technologies, Inc.
Carla Putnam Kerr is the communications manager for Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA).
Anne Molloy is an internal communication and engagement advisor for Greater Bank.
Nick Wilson is the communications coordinator for the University of Alberta’s Department of Surgery.
IABC, featuring Carla Putnam Kerr, Ron Flanders, Nick Wilson, Kelsey Huff, Andrew Blunt and Anne Molloy