Can trade associations ‘get’ social media?

Both the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) have published papers on social media this week. One thing they appear to have in common is that neither was very good.

Amelia Torode attended the launch of the IPA’s social media research paper and wasn’t very impressed. Simon Collister has read the CIPR’s updated social media guidelines and wasn’t very impressed.

I can’t comment much on the IPA research as I wasn’t asked to contribute to the research, wasn’t invited to the launch and haven’t yet shelled out to buy the report. But I respect Amelia’s opinion, so don’t have high hopes for one I eventually read it.

I was invited to contribute to the updated CIPR social media guidelines, but chose not to for the same reason as I didn’t contribute to the first version. I’m just not convinced that a separate set of guidelines are required. The CIPR already has a professional code of conduct that all members should abide by. The code covers what we do in any discipline and we don’t have separate ones for media relations, stakeholder relations or investor relations – so why for social media?

And Simon quite rightly questions its interpretation of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, Asking if the regulations really do outlaw ‘ghosted’ blogs. The guidelines appear to be confused about the difference between ghosted and fake blogs, the first of which is usually bad practice and the second of which is illegal.

As the voice and content of the consumer becomes ever more important it will be interesting to see how quickly the trade bodies that represent old vested interests are able to adapt.

For the record I’m a massive supporter of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and have volunteered my time to sit on committees and speak at conferences. However, on this I don’t think we’re there yet.

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About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • http://profile.typepad.com/robskinner robskinner

    Stuart
    I share your view that social media shouldn't require a separate code. Professional practice should apply regardless of the discipline. In time, we'll consider it quaint that anyone once thought it necessary to create a separate code for social media.