Editorial: Can UK PR be all for one and one for all?

Do too many cooks spoilt the broth? This is question exercising some of the most senior industry minds this week. The newly formed PRCA council is being challenged by its founder Adrian Wheeler to assess whether the PRCA and IPR should once again become a single trade body, while the IPRA’ s UK national co-ordinator Stephen Jolly has called for a merger of the three main bodies.

Do too many cooks spoilt the broth? This is question exercising

some of the most senior industry minds this week. The newly formed PRCA

council is being challenged by its founder Adrian Wheeler to assess

whether the PRCA and IPR should once again become a single trade body,

while the IPRA’ s UK national co-ordinator Stephen Jolly has called for

a merger of the three main bodies.



The formation of the PRCA as a breakaway group of the IPR 27 years ago

was originally prompted by an increasing division between the interests

of the IPR’s predominantly in-house and the more commercially minded

consultant members. These differences of opinion still exist today but

are less marked in their intensity. The IPR’s avowed intention to

eventually achieve chartered status has led the organisation to focus to

a large extent on the betterment of the industry. While by definition,

the PRCA is a trade association, focusing on the concerns of its members

whose primary focus is the marketing and increased profitability of

their services.



But with corporate communications heads under pressure to demonstrate

their delivery to the bottom line and communications departments from

organisations as diverse as the COI and Railtrack, effectively acting as

consultants marketing their services to various department ’clients’,

these differences are becoming less significant.



The associations’ interests undoubtedly overlap in some critical areas

such as industry regulation and training and development. And now under

the umbrella of the Proof campaign, we have seen the first joint

financial venture between the IPR and PRCA with the forthcoming

publication of the research and evaluation toolkit. The question really

is whether the creation of a single body would better represent members

interests.



Should the IPR, the PRCA, and the IPRA formally join forces, the

exercise would be rendered pointless if the organisation immediately

divided itself down once again into in-house and consultancy camps.



The last few years have seen increasing movement of professionals

between in-house and consultancy posts, and a convergence of interests

between senior corporate communicators and consultants in terms of their

potential input on policy issues. At the same time, both in-house

operators and consultants are having to address the many issues raised

by globalisation.



The only rationale for the creation of a single body would be the

cross-fertilisation of experience between in-house operators and their

counterparts working in commercial consultancy. Without a true

amalgamation the whole exercise would be pointless



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