'Most positive thing for our industry in recent memory' - 30 PRCA members back APPC merger

Thirty PRCA members have backed a call for the APPC to merge with the PRCA, putting their signatures to a letter that echoes a similar missive sent last week from 30 APPC members.

The signees include Alison Clarke, business consultant and former chief executive of Grayling UK & Ireland; Richard Houghton, former chairman of the PRCA; Mark MacGregor, corporate affairs director at Philip Morris; and Jo-ann Robertson, chief executive of Ketchum London.

In the letter, the signatories "endorse unreservedly the seven key benefits of merger as set out in the 'Memorandum of Understanding'".

They insist that the merger would "be the most positive thing that has happened in our industry in recent memory", that by "creating a stronger, bigger membership body representing the public affairs community, we would speak more loudly and more effectively on the issues that unite us".

The open letter comes a week after 30 senior public affairs professionals, representing 24 APPC member organisations, came out in favour of the controversial proposal.

There have been a number of dissenting voices, however. Earlier this month a campaign group launched in opposition to the merger, with more than 20 senior public affairs figures publicly backing the stance.

The Campaign for an Independent APPC argued, 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.

In this week's letter, the PRCA signatories insist that "those who worry that public affairs would be marginalised" in a merged body "should learn from our experience — public affairs practitioners have always punched above our weight within the PRCA".

"Being part of the PRCA amplifies rather than diminishes our voice. That will be as true in the future as it is today," it reads. "The new body would be a home for all public affairs practitioners of whatever size; whether boutique or generalists; in-house, agency, or freelance; in all parts of the UK."

Those opposed to the merger include senior industry 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 also include leaders from APPC members including the 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."

The names of those PRCA members — which includes just one APPC member (Steffan Williams) — supporting the idea of a merger are:

  • Claire Aiken, managing director of Aiken PR
  • James Butcher, senior campaign manager and public affairs at Spink Health
  • Nathaniel Cassidy, chairman of the PRCA's northern group
  • Alison Clarke, business consultant and former CEO of Grayling UK & Ireland
  • Sally Costerton, director of Sally Costerton Advisory
  • Kevin Craig, CEO of PLMR
  • Martha Dalton, managing director of Lodestone
  • Paul Dimoldenberg, executive chairman of Quatro PR
  • Dick Fedorcio, former president of the IPR
  • Simon Francis, founder member of Campaign Collective
  • David Gallagher, president of growth and development international at Omnicom
  • Susan Hardwick, co-Founder and joint president of Global Women in PR
  • Liam Herbert, CEO of Chelgate
  • Richard Houghton, former chairman of the PRCA
  • Jack Irvine, executive chairman of Media House International
  • Keith Johnston, CEO of Family Office Council
  • Robert Khan, former chairman of government affairs group at the CIPR
  • Katie King, chairman, South East and East Anglia Group, PRCA
  • Kirsty Leighton, founder of Milk and Honey
  • Elisabeth Lewis, CEO of Liquid
  • Mark MacGregor, corporate affairs director at Philip Morris
  • Sean McKee, director of policy and public affairs at London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Dominick Moxon-Tritsch, global director of regulation and public policy at Taxify
  • Simon Nayyar, managing director at Acuitas Communications
  • Angela Oakes, joint-president of Global Women in PR
  • Jonny Popper, managing director and partner at London Communications Agency
  • Jo-ann Robertson, CEO of Ketchum London; James Turgoose, managing director of JBP
  • Steffan Williams, partner at Portland
  • Lionel Zetter, managing director of Zetter’s Political Services.

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