NEW YORK: As the new chairman of the Council of Public Relations Firms, Marcia Silverman, who is also CEO of Ogilvy PR, will focus the organization's efforts on preparation for and understanding of government legislation and public policy issues.
Silverman replaced Helen Ostrowski, CEO of Porter Novelli, as chairman, in December. "In the past I had not been very active in the Council," she said. "But it seemed to me that WPP firms weren't broadly represented." Following discussions with former WPP EVP Howard Paster, Silverman became more engaged with Council activities and eventually agreed to chair the organization.
The Council chair has a one-year term, which Silverman said does limit the scope of what can be achieved, but that the chairman's role is largely to help the organization to "set direction" on ongoing issues.
"It's no accident that I, who comes from an issues management and government regulations and public affairs background, am involved at this point in time," Silverman said. "I think it is something that the leadership of this organization should be familiar with and prepared for, and I think that there are activities that we ought to begin for the health of the industry."
The Council has now launched a task force on issues management and government regulation and an issues-monitoring program. "We'll be watching the Hill; we'll be watching the FTC (Federal Trade Commission)...so that we are aware," she said. "These are things that are important for all agencies, not just the large ones."
Silverman also said that she wants the Council to be a vocal advocate for PR as a strategic organizational function.
"I think we need to be out there telling [businesses and organizations] who and what we are, that we do more than blow up balloons and cut ribbons," she said.
Talent is another issue of concern.
"We need to do a better job of attracting others to the profession," Silverman said. "We're stealing from each other on a regular basis, all of us."
A podcast of this interview can be found at prweek.com/us/podcasts/