The move will see the CIPR and PRCA go into direct competition for members as the PRCA outlined its drive to become the 'industry's undisputed voice'.
As reaveled on prweek.com/uk on Tuesday, individuals will now be able to join the PRCA, in addition to consultancies, comms teams and sole traders.
CIPR CEO Jane Wilson hit back, saying: 'I question their motives - they're probably more commercial rather than for the good of the profession.'
The PRCA is offering its service from £100 per year, compared with the CIPR's £240. Wilson ruled out a price war with the PRCA, arguing: 'Price is one of a number of reasons to join an organisation. There are other issues of quality, professionalism and chartered practitioner status. There are things that the CIPR can and does offer that can't be replicated.' Wilson added that the PRCA had replicated 'everything from the member grades to the qualifications and the workshop details' of the CIPR. 'It's been building a model that replicated what the CIPR has delivered for some time,' she said.
PRCA chief executive Francis Ingham denied Wilson's allegations, stating that 'commercially, we have no need to do this - it is about giving the industry the leadership it has been crying out for'.
He argued that the claim that the PRCA had copied the CIPR's services was 'based on a complete absence of knowledge', stating that the PRCA had offered qualifications for 15 years. He added that 'anyone who looks around my board would realise there is massive quality in the PRCA'.
The two bodies are understood to have held talks over closer collaboration earlier this year, but failed to reach concrete agreements. Despite this, both Wilson and Ingham said they remained open to working on projects together.
The CIPR is going through a consultation process in order to review its member grades, while looking at the 'convergence of disciplines' in PR.