Resetting the Horizon Line: The Ultimate Career Step For Marketing Professionals

Joan Capelin with Barbara Rodriguez, Hon. AIA, researcher
August 2008

This white paper started because all too often, someone would ask Joan, “What does it take to get to the table?” “The table,” of course, is the closed-door policy meeting where the owners strategize about the future and formalize the policies of the business. “What does it take?” became the impetus for a year’s research, partially supported by the SMPS Foundation [which holds the copyright], into why design professionals are licensed, who owns design firms, why the current ownership set-up seems counter to current business practice, and whether this arrangement remains relevant in the 21st century. 

 Ten specific questions guided the research and thus the structure of the white paper. Anyone who already owns or has an interest in owning a design firm – especially non-licensees – will find the white paper useful. Even if you have no inclination to become an owner, you will gain valuable insights into the professions. The 10 questions are:

1. What is licensure?
2. What is the difference between a general business corporation and a licensed professional service business?
3. Is licensure required for owners of professional service firms that practice in your state?
4. How are design firms structured?
5. Why would someone who is not a licensed professional want to become an owner of a professional services firm?
6. Who are non-licensee role models? What do they do?
7. What skills do you need to become an owner?
8. Why aren’t more marketers owners?
9. What if you can’t be an owner in the firm where you work or want to work?
10. Conclusion: How close is the horizon?

Resetting the Horizon Line can be accessed and downloaded at no cost through the SMPS Web site or requested through Capelin Communications.

Much of this white paper – though without the bibliography and other support materials – was also the cover of the SMPS Marketer December 2008 issue, which is also available online to members.


Marketing Professional Services in the Decade of Integrity

Joan Capelin was the keynote speaker at the rededication of the School of Architecture Building at Washington State University in April1992.  The Public Relations Society of America published her speech as a monograph, with this comment by its editor: “a fascinating look at how the professions evolved, and a thought-provoking perspective on where they may be headed.”  The monograph resulted from Joan’s research into the nature of work in the United States, and how the professions arose and separated themselves from the trades.

Since PRSA no longer publishes monographs, Capelin Communications has permission to provide copies.  To request a copy, please e-mail, “PRSA Monograph” in the subject line.