An open letter to Sarah Hall

Congratulations on winning the elections for CIPR President-Elect last week Sarah.

The election has raised some fundamental issues, which are troubling me. Now is a good time to consider the role of CIPR and its relationship with the members.

The turnout

Three good candidates stood in the election for the President-Elect so I would have expected healthy debate around the role of PR and the CIPR. I observed activity on social media but was disappointed to conclude that this was only within a small echo chamber.

The most shocking feature of this election was that overall the voter turnout was 13.5 per cent. By turnout I mean completing the online form. No real hardship there. No leaving the office in the pouring wind or rain to go to a polling station. The number of valid votes for the President-Elect position was 1,000.

Yes, that’s right, 1,000 votes.

The CIPR’s Integrated Report for 2015 recorded membership of 10,337. The PRCA’s PR Census 2016 shows that the PR industry employs around 83,000 people. No doubt not all these people are PR practitioners, but work in support roles such as finance. The evidence remains though. CIPR members are a small percentage of the industry and only a small percentage of the members voted.

I would urge you to address this challenge as part of the commitment to members you set out in your manifesto. It requires serious investigation, thought and debate.

Our Charter

In your manifesto you also plan to help the CIPR assert its vision and place within society. For me, this is critical.

I have been a member of the CIPR since 1986. I believe our chartered status places a unique role and responsibility on the Chartered Institution for Public Relations. This is set out in the six aims of the Charter:

  • to promote for the public benefit high levels of skill, knowledge, competence, and standards of practice and professional conduct on the part of public relations practitioners;
  • to promote the study, research and development of the practice of public relations and publish or otherwise make available the useful results of such study and research;
  • to promote public understanding of the contribution of effective public relations in encouraging ethical communication and in enhancing the efficiency and performance of all sectors of the economy;
  • to act as an authoritative body for the purpose of consultation in matters of public and professional interest concerning public relations;
  • to represent the interests of members in all public fora; and
  • to advance the interests of members and to provide facilities and services for members.

Our future

Public benefit, public understanding, authoritative body, all public fora. These are all phrases I would urge you to consider when you set your KPIs for measuring your plan.

You have a key responsibility. I trust that you will reflect on our charter and our responsibilities to the public.

I wish you well in your period office and I will support you in whatever way I can.

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