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Final CIPR end of term 2014 report

This CIPR Annual General Meeting (AGM) report is my last formal activity as the CIPR’s 2014 President.

This is the summary of a speech that I gave at the CIPR AGM on the SS Great Britain in Bristol, UK, tonight.

Tonight is the end of journey for me that started with a blog post in March 2013.

The blog post set out a manifesto of ten points to modernise the CIPR. It consisted of community, confidence, professional, excellence, relevance, relationships, social, lobby and voice/leadership.

You can look it up for yourself. It’s one of the most frequently visited posts on my personal website.

The ten points were an effort to realign the CIPR with its vision and purpose, and take members along the journey.

Vision and purpose

The CIPR is unusual in having its vision and purpose set out so formally in a Royal Charter.

That vision is very simply to promote professionalism in public relations for practitioners, and in the public interest.

It’s a simple statement but it’s very important as it helps define what we do as well as what we don’t.

The CIPR did some difficult things in 2014.

The major activity was modernising our governance. In doing so we were the first Chartered organisation to undertake a consultation with members using social forms of media, most notably a wiki.

We streamlined the board and the council to ensure more effective member representation and decision making.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) was made a requirement for members of the board and the council as part of a broader focus during the year on professional development.

Integrated Report: community and leadership

The Integrated Report 2014, itself a first for a Chartered organisation aside of the accountancy profession, formally sets out our activities in support of our Charter but I want to particularly reference two areas from my original manifesto, namely community and voice/leadership.

In 2014 we welcomed 25 new fellows and created a community of Fellows. In my view it is important to recognise the talent of those that have made a significant contribution to practice and the CIPR.

We also celebrated the work of Chartered Practitioners with the publication of a book of essays from this important group within the CIPR.

Our leadership was marked by numerous initiatives, key among them gender equality and the future of the profession. These issues are now front and centre of the CIPR’s policy and campaign work.

My own work on modernisation resulted in a paper and presentation at conferences on behalf of the CIPR in Madrid and Washington. It sets out the transformation from media relations or publicity to our role in helping organisations become truly social.

I want to return to my original manifesto and those ten points. In the final analysis I’d mark my achievements last year as 4.5 out of ten.

Work in progress: competency, framework and training

There’s a limit to what anyone can achieve in 12-months. It is very much a work in progress. There are three critical areas for the CIPR in my view:

  1. Competency framework and career journey – what are the skills that practitioners need at each stage of their career?
  2. Chartered PR Practitioner – how can the CIPR grow this community of senior practitioners so that it becomes the norm rather than the exception for practitioners?
  3. Training and qualifications – how can the CIPR best support professional development at every stage of a practitioner’s career?

In my final five months in office I’m going to explore some of these issues through a community of practice that connects academics and practitioners. Here’s what I want to achieve.

Our opportunity

Public relations has never had such an opportunity to become the eyes, ears and conscience of an organisation. But it has never had such an opportunity to become irrelevant either as media changes so rapidly.

We’ll become incredibly valuable as a discipline, and the CIPR as a professional body, if we focus steadfastly on our vision and purpose of promoting professional practice in public relations.

Thank you.

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Stephen Waddington

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

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