September 19, 2016 Andy Green

Why the CIPR needs urgent change

Why the CIPR needs urgent change

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) needs urgent change to tackle the challenges facing its members. It needs to move it away from a top-down run bureaucracy, needing instead a network of communities actively and tirelessly collaboratively working to improve the interests of PR professionals and the wider world.

And that is why I’m urging you to consider voting for Sarah Hall as President of the Institute in its current Presidential elections.

We have three very good candidates in this year’s election but Sarah edges it for me with her ability to get things done, especially with her exceptional experience in sparking and nurturing collaborative communities – the pathway for a better future for anyone with a passion for making things better in PR.

Do check out the #FuturePRoof initiative – perhaps the best effort anywhere to lead us into a better future.

And believe me, we need urgent action – and Sarah is the person to deliver that change

Over a year ago, last April, in my role as a member of the Institute’s Policy & Campaigns Committee I produced a discussion paper on the need for a ‘Collaboration Strategy’.

Inspired by my own less-than-satisfactory experiences, and also when listening to story of angst told to me by a very senior figure in the industry. They represent a major organisation seeking to develop a joint initiative with the Institute.

So angered by what they perceived as an arrogance by the Institute – they subsequently walked away, even lapsing their membership, despite being a Fellow of the CIPR.

So, wanting to change things I scoped a discussion paper with the following objectives:

  • Enable the CIPR to maximize its potential to use its resources and capabilities to achieve more with less and make the most of its situation
  • Build on areas of existing strengths and address areas of weaknesses
  • Put into practice and be a leader in promoting collaboration, co-creation, crowdcasting, crowdsourcing and open innovation.
  • Share its best practice with its members – and the wider world
  • Create a stronger listening culture for the organization
  • Create a Content Marketing strategy for the organization
  • Shift the underlying narrative of the organization away from a provider of benefits to a partner with a common destiny, from a relationship of ‘Participation’ to ‘Connection’

I pointed out that public relations’ is operating in an environment where there is a revolution taking place, or at least a period of significant change and uncertainty. We need new defining principles and embrace new areas of practice, in a fast-moving context, where bigger and better resourced competitors – such as the advertising and digital marketing industries – are encroaching on traditional areas of PR practice.

I added how the profession needs to respond, and create a better future. We need to respond to these challenges in new ways, being more resourceful and innovative, particularly in the areas of collaboration, co-creation and open innovation.

I usually love a delicious irony but this one left a bad taste. My efforts to get a collaboration policy for the Institute disappeared in a black hole. Not one bit of discussion ever appeared.

No evidence of any formal listening or even a response. (Note – this was before Rob Brown, our current President, took office.)

We need an Institute that is less top-down run. One that harness the powers of its members and wider networks. That listens.

We need to foster a network of communities representing members’ interests. This will truly radically improve our collective ability and make the Institute relevant, and a key part of our members’ professional lives.

One of my favourite quotes is from the science fiction writer William Gibson who says “The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.”

Sarah Hall with her work on #FuturePRoof is an example of a successful future for PR being already here. I would recommend voting for Sarah to ensure that successful future is more evenly distributed.

We are blessed this year with three excellent candidates standing. Good luck to all the candidates. Above all, let’s hope democracy is a winner, where we don’t see just 1 in 9 of CIPR members voting.

Yet I genuinely believe, if we want an Institute that will do the best for you, empowered by, and serving its members, then you should vote for Sarah. Because we need urgent action – with everyone collaborating and working to create our collective better future.

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