Notes to the future CIPR President from the social web

Today is the last day of voting for the CIPR President for 2014 and for new members to the CIPR Council for a three-year term starting 2013.

Make sure that you vote.

I’m a member of the CIPR PR Council and Social Media Panel. But my interest in this election goes beyond the CIPR.

The public relations industry is  at a threshold of opportunity as a result of media change. It’s an upbeat story that Steve Earl and I told in Brand Anarchy. Its the lesson from Dr Jon White’s Future 2020 review of the industry for the CIPR and the findings of the 2011 PR Week PRCA Census.

The UK public relations industry needs a strong professional institute to help it modernise.

That’s not just my view. It’s the view of a CIPR that has been reinvigorated under new leadership in the last three-years supported by a strong team and is shared by everyone that has commented on the CIPR elections on the social web in the last two weeks.

Here’a summary for the future President.

  1. The CIPR has industry leadership in the UK regions, and areas of professional practice such as internal communication and social media. These groups are a force for good and lead the industry. They need to be nurtured, promoted and celebrated amongst CIPR members and used as the basis of a recruitment proposition.
  2. The CIPR has a Charter from the Privy Council but it has done little to promote Chartered Practitioner status to members or to the wider business community. As a result members question its value. This needs to be fixed.
  3. Merger talk has dominated the election for CIPR President. The relationship with the PRCA needs to be addressed for the benefit of the CIPR and the broader industry. The two organisations need to address areas of competition and work as a united voice to represent the industry. A full blown merger is almost certainly a call too far.
  4. If the public relations industry is the make the shift from a craft to a profession it needs to put qualifications and professional practice at its core. This isn’t an option in my view and needs firm leadership and a roadmap to put Continuous Professional Development (CPD) at its core.
  5. The CIPR is a regional organisation that happens to be headquartered in London. The new President needs to be more visible in each of the 14 regions and help to address a perceived London bias. Beyond this strong engagement and continued investment in technology to remove geographical boundaries would start to go a long way.


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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.


  1. Hi Stephen, as ever a thoughtful post and one I don’t disagree with in the slightest. Point 5 interests me particularly so I’ve responded with some further notes of my own: http://j.mp/TFuYqp. Be interesting to see what others’ thoughts are, Sarah

    • Oh dear. We’re in danger of wild agreement breaking out. I’m not used to this. But, to be fair its not difficult is it?

  2. Nail meet hammer – squarely on the head. Well said Wadds.

    The CIPR has been re-invigorated and its position strengthened over the last three years. Revisions to its corporate governance and structure that I began and the excellent jay O’Connor completed fundamentally changed the organisation for the better. They led virtually directly to the improved website, the social engagement thru “The Conversation” and the Social Media panel and Social Summer series.

    Presidents now benefit from all that change and can concentrate on the promotion of the Institute, the Chartered Status and the Chartered Practitioner programme which needs an overhaul.

    Whoever wins the election has my support in pushing ahead on all those fronts – as well as uniting the voice of the profession wherever possible.

    About ten or more years ago when chairing the CIPR Education Ctte I suggested at a Council meeting that CPD should be compulsory for all members. I was “mocked” by the majority at the time – “that would never work” was the response.

    Well times they are a-changing and I look forward to the day when adverts/listings for senior positions in industry and consultancies say that it would be “expected” that the successful candidate would be a Chartered Practitioner.

    But that will not happen unless we all – inside and outside the CIPR organisation – wirk towards it.

    • Thanks Kevin. You’re clearly a revolutionary. An anarchist even.

      In all seriousness it comes down to the simple issue of whether folk want to work and be tested against the highest levels of professionalism within the industry – or not. I know which team I want to be in.

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