IPR CONFERENCE: Debate examines why PR people aren’t reaching board level

PR people are too ‘narrowly focused’ and lack the ‘broad vision and experience’ needed to secure a place on the board, United Biscuits managing director Gordon Hourston told last week’s IPR conference.

PR people are too ‘narrowly focused’ and lack the ‘broad vision and

experience’ needed to secure a place on the board, United Biscuits

managing director Gordon Hourston told last week’s IPR conference.



Chairing a panel debate entitled ‘What do chief executives want from

their communication advisers?’ Hourston said that, unlike PR

professionals, most CEOs have a broad range of business experience which

helps them rise to the company boardroom.



Hourston’s views were backed by Victoria Provis of Odgers Management

Consultants who told the conference that it is rare to find a CEO who is

willing to put a PR person on the board.



‘They are looking for an extra something, such as a business background

or MBA,’ said Provis.



Unlike other panel members Inchcape group corporate affairs director

Paul Barber felt PR executives should not be on the board but operate as

an ‘independent adviser’ to allow them to objectively question the

board’s decisions.



Fishburn Hedges MD John Williams complained that although there is an

increasing recognition of the importance of good communications, PR is

still seen to be ‘below stairs’.



IPR President Rosemary Brook asked Hourston why CEO’s did not seek

advice from their PR people earlier in the decision making process.



‘Members of boards have had some success in some area of communications

so they think they can do it,’ replied Hourston. ‘We’re arrogant, we

think we know all the answers.’



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