CIPR set to shift power and scale back regional awards

The overhaul of the CIPR proposed by CEO Alastair McCapra involves moving power from the council to the executive board and reducing its regional awards.

McCapra: "Planning ahead"
McCapra: "Planning ahead"

Membership fees may also rise for the first time since 2009, though not "radically", as part of a package of measures the new broom estimates will improve the CIPR’s finances by £100,000 in time.

Speaking to PRWeek, McCapra elaborated on the changes he outlined to members last week, which include restructuring governance and refocusing the CIPR by cutting jobs and managing fewer events.

He said changing the governance structure was something he was specifically asked by the board to do when appointed to the job last August.

The structure was criticised at the time by a former board member for making the CIPR too slow to react to its members.

McCapra wants to move decision-making from the council, which he also wants to slim down from 50 to 30 members, to the 10-strong executive board. The council's role would be to act as a representative body for members and as a sounding board for the leadership.

"I’m proposing the CIPR adopts the model of governance that has been the norm in professional bodies of our size for a few years," he said. "We have to operate as a business. It's difficult to imagine that anyone would set a business up with 50 directors."

The change, which means council members would no longer be directors, will be debated by the council later this month.

If approved, CIPR members will then vote on them at the AGM in June and then they will go to the Privy Council for approval due to the CIPR’s Royal Charter.

The separate changes to the CIPR secretariat are being managed by McCapra, and the details of the cuts that will reduce its staff from 38 to 32 are expected to be resolved by the end of this month.

McCapra was reluctant to discuss where cuts would fall, but admitted that his plans envisaged reducing the number of regional PRide Awards the CIPR runs, though its national Excellence Awards would not be affected.

He was also lukewarm on the future of the Public Relations Show, the exhibition the CIPR launched this autumn, saying it may not return next year without a commercial partner.

Membership fees may rise, McCapra admitted, but said he had no plans to withdraw the free membership the CIPR launched for students in 2012.

The changes will reduce the institute’s income of close to £4m but also its costs, resulting in a £100,000 improvement to its profits after year one.

"This is not a response to a crisis, but planning ahead," according to McCapra, who said the CIPR was profitable in 2013 pending its final audit.

"It's a difficult balance to get because we are a business but we also have a responsibility to represent and listen to everybody in the profession."

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