Colleagues tell me I am ’nuts’ to channel so much of my energy into
IPRA, but I am convinced that professional bodies are important if this
industry is to flourish - and there is still much to play for.
I aim to use this year building partnerships with outside bodies,
including the corporate sector, and exploiting the global knowledge base
of these organisations to become more relevant on issues such as
environment, ethics, evaluation, the electronic village, education,
economic growth (in Asia) and the emerging markets.
My project addresses the implications for our field of the changing
context in which we all operate.
As the pre-eminent global body of senior PR professionals IPRA should be
playing a more proactive role in the debate about solutions to complex
international issues as well keeping our own house in order.
So long as we co-ordinate our approaches I do not believe the other
international organisations such as ICO and IABC will conflict, as has
Nor do I believe there are too many if one includes the strong national
organisations with international involvement such as the PRSA in the US
and the IPR here.
Although there may be some overlap in competition for members’ time and
money they serve essentially different markets. The crucial point is
that they should provide a seamless network of information sharing and
support for those in the industry, while singing the same song to
stakeholders outside it.
Critics may point to the cost of membership and ask whether a solution
could be to merge the administrative functions of one or two bodies,
leaving the membership free to continue with their separate missions.
This may be something for the future.
The debate inside IPRA is whether the body should be a network of
individual groups run on a shoe-string, or whether it should truly
represent the profession internationally, with the associated costs of a
The decision four years ago to appoint an executive director was an
investment in the future and the move to London from Geneva in late 1996
was a decision which will not only reduce costs but improve
Like our colleagues in other PR bodies we shall concentrate on
streamlining our organisation and being relevant. The importance of
professional bodies is not entirely tangible. It’s not easy to persuade
those on the outside what it means to belong to (in IPRA’s case) ’a
network with the soul’.
But I shall go on trying.