The two main professional bodies representing PROs have had a spectacular bust-up, with the PRCA accused of using the new UK register of lobbyists to poach CIPR members.
The UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC) register went live earlier this month, jointly funded by the CIPR, PRCA and Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC).
The row erupted this week after it emerged that the PRCA had sent hundreds of unsolicited emails to CIPR members whose names and contact details appear on the new register. The association's move is understood to have led to a flood of complaints from CIPR members, concerned over the way their personal data was being used.
The PRCA's letter, sent out by membership manager Veronica Newson, stated: 'I am writing to invite you to consider joining the PRCA,' before going on to outline the benefits of membership.
Sources close to the CIPR said senior figures were furious at the PRCA's tactics. The institute said it would address the issue at the next UKPAC board meeting, but PRWeek has learned that chief executive Jane Wilson has already written to the 256 members affected to express her frustration.
Her letter, obtained by PRWeek, states: 'The CIPR board believes that the PRCA ... has broken the spirit in which it, the CIPR and the APPC founded UKPAC. We are disappointed with this turn of events. We are discussing the implications for our partnership as a board.'
However, PRCA chief executive Francis Ingham was unapologetic. He insisted: 'The idea that we are trying to poach CIPR members is fanciful at best. The note ... had absolutely nothing in it to suggest that people ought to leave the CIPR. People who are reading something into it that isn't there are being a bit paranoid.'
- The CIPR, established in 1947, represents 9,500 individuals across all sectors of PR.
- The PRCA, set up in 1969, has 197 agency members including the majority of the top 100 UK consultancies. It launched in-house body membership last year.
- The UKPAC register of lobbyists launched on 1 March. There are 1,613 individuals on the register and 110 corporate bodies.