PRCA-APPC merger: 30 public affairs chiefs state their approval

Thirty senior public affairs professionals, representing 24 APPC member organisations, have come out in favour of a controversial proposal to merge the organisation with the PRCA.

Rachel Friend, UK CEO at Weber Shandwick, is among those backing a proposed merger
Rachel Friend, UK CEO at Weber Shandwick, is among those backing a proposed merger

An open letter released today has been signed by supporters of the proposed merger and urges APPC members to back the move when they vote on the plan on 8 October.

It is signed by Jim Donaldson, chief executive, UK and Middle East, FleishmanHillard-Fishburn; Rachel Friend, UK chief executive, Weber Shandwick; Sam Ingleby, senior partner, Portland Communications; Richard Millar, UK chief executive, H+K Strategies; and Will Walden, managing director, public affairs, Edelman.

They write that while there is "a healthy and vibrant debate" over the merits of the merger, there are several "key benefits."

These include reducing "the current confusion about who regulates and speaks for public affairs", as well as "the burden on our respective – and often overlapping – members in completing their quarterly returns."

Other benefits would be having a stronger voice, not having to pay separate fees to belong to the APPC, and having access to the resources of the PRCA, argues the letter.

It says: "Those who oppose merger do so with good intentions, and they are people with whom many of us have worked over the years, and whose judgement we respect. But we believe that their central concerns have all been addressed."

The letter adds that the merger is "a once-in-a-decade opportunity for our industry", and argues: "By uniting our two organisations, we will do public affairs a great service – on a par with the moment when the industry embraced self-regulation and high ethical standards, and established the APPC twenty-five years ago."

Other signatories include senior leaders at BCW, Cicero, Connect Communications, Forty Shillings, Higginson Strategy, Instinctif, Interel, Lansons, Maitland, Message Matters, MHP, Morrison Media, Newgate, Newington, PB Consulting, Quiller Consultants, WA, Whitehouse Consultancy, and Westbourne.

This comes just days after 21 public affairs chiefs, including representatives of 17 APPC member organisations, declared their opposition to the merger, backing a newly formed group, the Campaign for an Independent APPC, dedicated to preventing the proposed merger from going ahead.

The group claims the plans amount to a takeover, threatens the APPC’s highly regarded code and disciplinary procedure; and will penalise APPC members who do not belong to the PRCA.

Those opposed to the merger include senior figures such as Alex Deane, senior managing director, FTI; Lucy Holbrook, partner, Pagefield; Graham McMillan, principal, Teneo Blue Rubicon; and Simon Whale, managing director, Luther Pendragon.

Opponents of the merger also include leaders from APPC members including Association of Accounting Technicians, Brands2Life, Brevia Consulting, Cavendish Communications, Curtin & Co, GK Strategy, HJCL, Perspectiva Consultants, Political Intelligence, RIA, Riverside, and Rosemary Grogan Public Affairs.

Responding to the pro-merger letter released today, Darren Caplan, chief executive, RIA, and a member of the APPC management committee who is opposed to the merger, said: "We will continue to promote the case that an Independent APPC is the best route forward. Its revenues are secure, its membership is becoming ever younger and more diverse; and it promotes and protects the ‘gold standard’ Code of Conduct, lobbying register, training, and complaints procedure."

He added: "The proposed PRCA takeover is a solution in search of a problem. We will continue to encourage those who value the APPC to vote against it".

Read next:

Nine questions about how (and if) the APPC-PRCA merger would work

One code, one register, 'no extra cost': PRCA and APPC reveal merger plan details

In defence of the APPC

A rebuttal of "In defence of the APPC"

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