IABC and CPRS conferences go head-to-head

TORONTO: A decision by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) to change the date of its annual World Conference has irked members of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), because now each of the group's conference events will go head-to-head next year.

TORONTO: A decision by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) to change the date of its annual World Conference has irked members of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), because now each of the group's conference events will go head-to-head next year.

The IABC conference will be held in San Francisco from June 7-10. The CPRS National Conference will be held in Vancouver June 7-9. The two organizations usually coordinate their respective events so Canadian members belonging to both associations can attend each event.

Derrick Pieters, director of communications, Department of Justice Canada, Prairie Region and the North in Edmonton, and CPRS president, said they were surprised, and not initially warned, of the date change. “It is unfortunate there is a conflict, but it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances as to how it happened,” he said.

Felicia Shiu, VP of Weber Shandwick in Toronto and director of IABC's International Executive Board, said because of a screw-up at the Marriott in San Francisco, the hotel asked “us to change the dates because they couldn't get enough space for the [original] weekend. They offered a significant discount—a 20% food and beverage discount. That was important, particularly when you are looking at savings to help our membership.” She noted that, otherwise, IABC would have tried to negotiate a different date.

An executive at CPRS in Toronto said they have received complaints about the conflict, and Joseph Thornley, CEO of Thornley Fallis, expressed his dismay, as a member of both associations, on his blog. He told PRWeek that he feels the IABC, as the bigger, international organization, has “not played nice in Canada.”  

No one had concrete stats on how many Canadians are members of both associations, but both Shiu and Pieters agreed that the majority of those people usually choose to go to one conference, anyway. The IABC World Conference in New York this past June attracted 1,766 members, with roughly 400 of those coming from Canada. The CPRS National Conference usually attracts 350 to 400 members.

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