The creation of the Campaign for an Independent APPC comes as both sides of the debate look to build support before APPC members vote on the plan on 8 October.
The new campaign group contacted APPC members late last week asking them to put their name to the commitment opposing the link up with the PRCA. PRWeek understands it was in response to the pro-merger faction also emailing members to drum up support for their position.
The Campaign for an Independent APPC argues, among other things, that the proposal would be a takeover, rather than a merger; that the plans discriminate against APPC members who aren’t already PRCA members; that it would endanger the APPC’s highly regarded code and disciplinary procedure; and that there’s strong support for continuing and strengthening the APPC.
As of Monday morning (20 August), the campaign group has been publically backed by:
- Burhan Al-Gailani, Brands2Life, head of public affairs
- David Beamer, Brevia Consulting, founder and MD
- Michael Burrell, former APPC chair
- Darren Caplan, RIA, chief executive, former APPC vice chair
- Alex Challoner, Cavendish Communications, MD and founder
- Tom Curtin, Curtin & Co, CEO and founder
- Karen Freel, Perspectiva Consultants, director
- Alex Deane, FTI, senior MD
- Rosemary Grogan, Rosemary Grogan Public Affairs
- Phil Hall, Association of Accounting Technicians, head of public affairs & public policy
- Dan Hamilton, FTI, MD, Strategic Communications – public affairs
- Lucy Holbrook, Pagefield, partner
- Havard Hughes, former APPC vice chair
- Helen Johnson, HJCL, founder and MD, former APPC chair
- Nick Lansman, Political Intelligence, founder and chairman, former APPC vice chair
- Robbie MacDuff, former APPC chair
- David McCullough, Riverside, MD
- Graham McMillan, Teneo Blue Rubicon, principal
- Matt Palutikof, GK Strategy, account director
- Emily Wallace, former APPC vice chair
- Simon Whale, Luther Pendragon, MD
Deane said: "We are proud to be members of both bodies and our position is no criticism of the PRCA, but I feel that the industry is best represented by a body devoted solely to its interests."
APPC chairman Paul Bristow told PRWeek: "I always knew there would be a robust, healthy debate and I’m looking forward to a healthy debate on the other side. But it remains the case that the APPC are recommending this merger because the overwhelming majority of the management committee wanted to see it."
The details of the proposal - included in a Memorandum of Understanding between the APPC and the PRCA – were released earlier this month and outline plans for a single Public Affairs Code, Register and disciplinary process, among other things.
In a comment piece for PRWeek last month, Emily Wallace, former vice chair of the APPC and ex-chair of the PRCA PA Group, criticised the handling of the merger discussions. She argued that the views of many APPC members weren’t represented, claims later rebuffed by APPC vice chair George McGregor, who outlined the "significant gains" he expects from the merger.