EDITORIAL: Is it time for PRSA and IABC merger?

Is there any coincidence in the fact that the leading associations of the PR industry are so seriously in debt? As Deloitte & Touche goes through the books at the IABC, the full extent of the mismanagement is only just beginning to emerge. IABC is staring at a dollars 1 million loss, and is without leadership.

Is there any coincidence in the fact that the leading associations of the PR industry are so seriously in debt? As Deloitte & Touche goes through the books at the IABC, the full extent of the mismanagement is only just beginning to emerge. IABC is staring at a dollars 1 million loss, and is without leadership.

Is there any coincidence in the fact that the leading associations of the PR industry are so seriously in debt? As Deloitte & Touche goes through the books at the IABC, the full extent of the mismanagement is only just beginning to emerge. IABC is staring at a dollars 1 million loss, and is without leadership.

The situation at PRSA seems marginally less perilous, but with a deficit of dollars 500,000, and a reputation for irrelevance, there is still much to correct.

While the financial losses have certainly stolen the headlines, what besets both these organizations is a floundering lack of mission and direction.

Fortunately PRSA has acted with uncharacteristic speed and good sense to appoint acting president and COO Catherine Bolton on a permanent basis.

Bolton is very good news for the association. She is deeply knowledgeable about PR and passionate about the PRSA. She is a sensitive but decisive manager. And she is addressing the basics - financial management and relevance - in a straightforward manner. Let us hope that she can continue to develop and execute ideas and strategy based on these fundamentals, and not get bogged down in the notorious squabbling and petty bureaucracy.

With uncertainty still very much the watchword, however, is it not time for the associations to revisit the idea of a merger? The IABC could bring a strong international membership component to the table among its 13,000 members. The PRSA has an enthusiastic ground base of 18,000 members and huge strength in depth. But there is a lot of overlap, in local chapters, in programs, and in its basic mission of professional development, and it diminishes the resources available to the industry in much the same way that other organizations, like the Arthur Page Society and the PR Seminar, drain talent through duplication.

The possibility of a merger was last raised two years ago, but indecisive minds and ego-driven agendas make heavy work of even the most winning ideas. We think it's time to learn from the corporate world - and merge under a strong constitution and strong leadership





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