The business of PR has never been more valuable to organisations as media fragment and businesses connect directly with their publics. In the results of our State of the Profession survey more than 80 per cent of practitioners said their boards valued public relations.
Our profession achieves its greatest potential when it provides a unique perspective in the process of setting or developing organisational strategy and by developing and delivering a comms strategy to support the delivery of those strategic objectives.
I believe professionals need a clear structure for personal development to achieve this potential. When we asked about the biggest challenges facing public relations in the next five years, the majority of respondents said they were concerned about the expanding skill set required by professionals.
To tackle this issue, that structure must take practitioners from the technical and tactical level through to the upper levels of strategy and be firmly grounded in publicly acknowledged professional standards.
The CIPR’s purpose as an organisation lies in shifting the business of PR from a craft to a profession. Its value is a royal charter commitment to drive up standards in PR and to work to improve the profession’s reputation.
CIPR members elected me as president for 2014 on a modernisation ticket. Job one is to review the governance structures and ensure they are fit for purpose. The challenge the CIPR faces in balancing representation with effective decision making has been well reported in PRWeek. Alastair McCapra kick-started a review process on his first day as CEO last year. It’s a work in progress but we’ve set mid-year as the deadline for change. We’re not mucking about.
Job two is to set in motion a shift to a truly member-led and member-run organisation. The CIPR should be a social business with a central support that sets and regulates standards.
Ultimately, we must lead the profession towards the point where more professionals are operating at the level of their greatest potential. It’s critical to the future relevancy of the CIPR that we get cracking immediately.
This monthly column will be a shop window on these changes. There is much to do.
Stephen Waddington is CIPR president and digital and social media director at Ketchum Europe