PRCA Matchmaker members are encouraged and incentivised to hold the Communications Management Standard (CMS) - the hallmark of PR excellence. CMS combines elements of ‘ISO9001’ and ‘Investors in People’ with criteria specific to a PR and communications consultancy. We introduced CMS in 1998, and updated it for the modern workplace in 2005 and 2012.
The nine core areas consultancies are scored on are:
- Leadership & Communication
- Business Planning
- Business Improvement
- Financial Management & Systems
- Campaign Management
- Client Satisfaction
- New Business
- People Management
How does a PR agency benefit from CMS?
1. It is proof you have a well-run business with all the correct systems and structures in place.
- A well-structured and accomplished senior management team that harnesses an effective internal and external communication system at all levels.
- Clear business goals and objectives that are embraced at all levels. Objectives that are frequently reviewed and compared to performance to ensure continued agency-wide excellence.
- Monthly management accounts have consistent and effective processes for calculating client fees, billing and credit control, and staff time management.
2. It demonstrates to your staff that you have a real commitment to their development.
- Employee selection is based on needs of the position.
- Employment includes an immediate induction, regular formal appraisals, personal development plans and training.
- The company acknowledges the diversity and equality policy which demonstrates best practice and informs the recruitment process.
3. Clients have peace of mind that they are buying a professional service from a PR and communications company that is committed to excellence.
- Client requirements are effectively captured, and used systematically to ensure delivery on client expectation.
- Client satisfaction measurement systems address all elements of the service and implements improvements effectively.
- Client teams such as Procurement and Government departments recognise CMS as a quality assurance.
4. If you are looking to grow your business, CMS is an excellent tool for growth.
- A consultancy has a proactive strategy for business development with effective systems for the management of its enquiries and sales.
- CMS identifies areas of improvement and growth in all aspects of the business.
5. CMS brings new business advantages
- CMS entitles an agency to access the Matchmaker service.
- CMS makes an agency eligible to join the Business Development Group.
How does the CMS process work?
The CMS process works as follows:
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the CMS Excel spreadsheet.
- Assign points to the CMS Excel spreadsheet to indicate which criteria you fulfil, and send it back to email@example.com. Guidance notes are provided along with the criteria. The overall pass rate you need to meet is 75%, and you need above 75% in the first 8 sections. Unless this is your first CMS, you also need above 75% in section 9 (Diversity).
- Three subsections will be randomly selected from amongst the subsections you claim to fulfil above 75%. For example:
- section 2, subsection 1 – ‘Have a business plan’
- section 4, subsection 3 – ‘Have effective client billing and credit controls systems’
- section 6, subsection 2 – ‘Have the client satisfaction measurement effectively implemented’.
- We will prearrange a time with you for a moderation. At this time we will email you the three subsections we require evidence for - you will then have two hours within which to send us the evidence (this is to prevent the creation of evidence upon request).
- If you fail to evidence any of these subsections (i.e. score less than 75% in the subsection), you will not have passed CMS. Passing all three subsections will entail passing CMS.
- Upon completion, we will be pleased to send you the CMS logo (for use on your website, email signatures and business cards) as well as a certificate.
- CMS is valid for two years before it needs to be renewed.