Platform: International networking towards the same goals - President of the International Public Relations Association Roger Hayes outlines his plans for the coming year

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.

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

been suggested.



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

global operation.



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

productivity.



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.



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