EDITORIAL: IPR presidency is worth fighting for

Last year's IPR president election saw a majority secured for John Aspery over the self-professed young turk of the industry, Stephen Jolly. The latter's slogan 'The Vanguard not the Old Guard' upset some people but summed up the division neatly. Members will be hoping for an equally clear distinction in this year's contest.

Let no-one doubt the president's task is an important one. The victor will, in time, become the figurehead for a topical industry comprising thousands of practitioners, constantly in the media frontline. It may be that part of this role is shaking hands at awards ceremonies, but part of it is also giving evidence in front of parliamentary committees.

Those on this year's ballot - consultant Jolly, freelance Ardi Kolah and Leeds Met's PR professor Anne Gregory - are all very able and all have a record of service to the industry. But past presidents include corporate affairs directors from FTSE 100 firms and CEOs of top ten consultancies.

While celebrating the representation of solo practitioners and non-profits in this year's shortlist - Gregory's employer is a public body even if she does not do PR for it - it is worth noting that they are not balanced by candidates employed by blue-chip companies.

But as well as decrying the institute for its lack of appeal to the top echelon of adviser, one should also castigate that tier of adviser for neglecting their duty to the profession. The comms directors and agency bosses who exercise their right to grumble about IPR officials should also take responsibility by serving the body themselves.

Certain PROs are doubtless put off by the rule that requires three years on the IPR council before one can stand for president - but the people deterred are only those whose egos outweigh their sense of duty. The IPR presidency is about serving the profession rather than the self.

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