Industry Voice: Since 1969, the UK PR industry has become truly world-leading

Precisely half a century ago, a group of senior PR practitioners founded the PRCA as the voice of a very small but growing industry.

Fifty years on, that UK industry is worth £15bn. It encompasses nearly 100,000 practitioners. It grows by about 10 per cent a year. Its work is central to every organisation. It is truly world-leading.

From the editor-in-chief: Half a century on, the UK's PR industry is taking a lead

And the PRCA has transformed itself into the largest PR Association, not just in the UK or Europe, but in the world.

It’s an Association that runs other Associations – LGComms in the UK and ICCO globally – and that has members in every corner of the UK, and a further 65 countries around the world.

What are our plans for the immediate future?

Everything we do will reflect our role as the voice of an industry that is dynamic, growing, confident and ethical.

We’ll invest even more time, effort, and resources in the Groups that represent the regions and nations of the UK – which includes a new PRCA Group for the Channel Islands.

We’ll continue our international expansion. In the past few years, we’ve established PRCA Middle East & North Africa, and PRCA Southeast Asia. We’ll be establishing PRCA Latin America imminently, with more expansion plans in the pipeline. We are taking the PRCA truly global.

We will also be building on our links with other UK and international Associations. We face common challenges, and we need to embrace our common opportunities. The PRCA’s ‘Big Tent’ approach is the right way to work together. Our cross-industry CPD Board, bringing together more than two dozen organisations, is an example of that. And yes: that approach involves collaboration, up to and including merger with the CIPR – our long-standing policy.

We’ll be addressing the issues that matter. Widening our appeal to the broadest possible talent pool. Reaching out to disadvantaged school-leavers and telling them that our industry welcomes them. Working with Global Women In PR and Women In PR to address issues such as sexual harassment and the gender pay gap. Working with AMEC as we continue our work to embed professional evaluation in all our industry does. Showcasing creativity at Cannes via our engagement with the Lions and Young Lions programmes. Working to ensure that as the blending of disciplines continues, it is PR that continues to come out on top.

And all the time, we’ll be making that case for PR. Vibrant. Effective. Professional. Ethical. And, yes: on the rare occasions when practitioners fall below ethical expectations, doing the right thing by the industry and by society.

In a further 50 years’ time, my successor will write a piece celebrating the PRCA’s centenary. I have no idea what our industry will look like at that point, but I have utter confidence that it will be even more relevant, sophisticated, and important than it is today. And I’m convinced the PRCA will still be making the case for the power of communication.

Francis Ingham is PRCA director-general and ICCO executive director

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