CIPR’s elected officers must clarify policy

Colin Farrington has been at it again with his latest comments on blogs – he doesn’t tackle any other forms of social media, but perhaps that’s a good thing! I won’t rehash the arguments about why Colin has got it so wrong because Richard Bailey, Neville Hobson and David Brain have all done a good job of that already.

But I do want to ask a fundamental question.

Why is Colin Farrington qualified to comment on this on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations? It is a professional practice issue and the CIPR’s view on this should be policy driven. Colin is an administrator. Actually an excellent administrator given the tremendous strides CIPR has taken under his administration.

What he isn’t is a public relations professional (please correct me if I’m wrong). I recall Colin came to CIPR because of his management skills and ability to run a professional institute or association.

The people who do have a right to set policy for CIPR are surely the council, standing committees and executive committees. I’ve searched the CIPR website, but am unable to find a copy of our standing orders or constitution that might clarify this.

As Neville Hobson says there are many CIPR members, including our current president Tony Bradley, who have a much firmer grasp of social media and its impact on our profession than Colin Farringon appears to have. But that’s hardly surprising, it’s our job.

Shouldn’t our elected officers therefore be instructing Colin to keep quiet on this issue until CIPR has a clear policy. If Colin wants to express his personal views then he is free to do so – in a personal capacity and not in a column in our professional journal that is written in his capacity as director general. If he has a burning desire to pontificate he could always start a blog!

It is worrying that Neville, a professional communicator and member of IABC, says:

“The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) proclaims it is ‘the eyes, ears and voice of the public relations industry’ in the UK.

I think that’s rather worrying.

It seems to me that those eyes, ears and voice are deeply rooted in the past and have little relevance to evolving PR practice and the needs of practitioners in the 21st century,…”

I think Neville has the wrong impression of CIPR, but he has only been able to form this impression because of the mistaken comments of an administrator.

As an employee of CIPR then Colin Farrington is answerable to CIPR members via our elected officers.

As a CIPR member I agree with David Brain when he says that Colin’s views are in danger of damaging the public relations profession as others in the communications field take the lead in social media. David is right when he says that public relations is about relationships – two way communications – and therefore we should be better positioned that other communications disciplines to take the lead.

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Stuart Bruce

International Public Relations Adviser | Trainer | Author | Media Commentator | Conference Speaker | University Lecturer | Online PR | Digital Corporate Communications | Crisis Communications | Digital Public Affairs