Jenny Andersson contacted me via Twitter after taking up the offer to join the CIPR. Here’s why. Perhaps her thinking will inspire you to do the same.
By Jenny Andersson
I’ve been in communications almost all my working life. I left a director role within the Shandwick Group in 1985 to set up my own agency at 26 which I ran until 1999. I’ve operated as a consultant and interim ever since. I’ve worked for some of the world’s most recognised consumer lifestyle brands.
I’ve never joined an industry organisation. Why not?
In the ‘80s and ‘90s fighting for boardroom representation and leadership on strategy against dominant advertising and media buying agencies I worked hard to develop proprietary measurement and evaluation methodologies, and deliver credible research and analysis services, which I saw as the way to boardroom credibility for the public relations function.
As early as 1986 I banished advertising value equivalent (AVE) from client management, and never lost a single client because I refused to be measured by them. It took industry organisations until 2010 to produce the Barcelona Principles which finally recognised that this ridiculous methodology was defunct, a milestone which wouldn’t have been achieved without the commitment of people such as Richard Bagnall.
During this period there was very little vision to position public relations within integrated communications of which I was an early proponent at a time when marketing communications functions still operated commonly in silos.
I also saw very little support for those practitioners more commonly involved in brand communications rather than corporate communications, which was then seen as the premiere function in the discipline.
At the turn of the 21st century, three important developments kept me in the communications industry; digital, the rise and importance of brands in society, and the recognition of the role of specialists in global narratives. Three developments that came together to create a truly magnificent opportunity for public relations.
And nothing happened at industry body level.
We need a new vision; led by people who not only understand the new communications landscape but have the courage to lead the industry forwards without the shackles of the past.
We need visionary leadership as never before, to continue to value our traditional roles and to clearly articulate our place in the new landscape. We need someone who can frame a new narrative which helps to place the old public relations function where it should be in relation to traditional tasks and new ones such as content capital and strategy, digital strategies, engagement and information management.
We need leadership that can help to ensure that the industry leverages the unprecedented opportunity to showcase why public relations practitioners are best placed to leverage the new communications landscape and to support global business – for the first time in 30 years we may just have that and so I’m signing-up.
I do wish you the very best of luck Stephen. I’m going to be a very interested observer.
About the Author
Jenny Andersson is a strategic communications professional with 25-years experience working on national, international and pan-European campaigns across a wide range of communications disciplines. You can connect with her on Twitter @jenandersson1.
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