There’s an interesting debate in the comments of a guest post on CIPR president elect Stephen ‘Wadds’ Waddington’s blog. Alister Foye claims Wadds “is one cog in the engine of an oil tanker that has been on the wrong course for over a decade.”
This is very much at odds with my experience as most people I know who are active in the CIPR are not only saying very similar things to Wadds said, but actually doing something about it. I’m one, but only one of many. In recent years we’ve had many outstanding CIPR president’s, but two who’ve particularly stood out for me are Anne Gregory who finally helped us to achieve chartered status and Jay O’Connor who kick-started much of the recent programme of modernisation.
I’ve been a Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) member since I joined as a student member of the then IPR in the late 80s. For some, maybe much, of this time, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the institute and at sometimes was most definitely at odds with it. In 2006 I was one of many PR professionals to write blog posts criticising the stance taken by then CIPR director general Colin Farrington: CIPR’s elected officers must clarify policy and The tetchy chamberlain, part II. But I’ve also written supportive posts before: The value of CIPR membership.
If all of the people questioning the CIPR’s stance had simply walked away then we wouldn’t have achieved change. And surely that’s one of the most powerful and exciting things about public relations – we are change-makers.
I’ve always remained a member for the fairly fundamental reason that the CIPR is the professional institute of my profession. And it is now governed by a Royal charter. If I’m not happy with what the institute is doing in the name of my profession then it’s my job to do something about. Otherwise I’m not fit to call myself a public relations professional.
“It’s better to be inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in” and “together we are stronger than we are alone” might be clichés, but nevertheless they are true. It is by collective action that we have the most chance of improving the reputation of the public relations profession and defending it from encroachment by other professions such as management consultants and industries such as advertising and marketing.
My third reason for being a member of the CIPR is I feel it is my duty and obligation. The public relations business has been good to me. I’ve made a career out of it. Built a business. And thoroughly enjoy it. I should pay something back and serving the wider profession through the CIPR is one way I can do that.
I was encouraged to stand for the national CIPR council last year and have just stated my three year term so I know that Stephen Waddington is not a lone voice. I know that he has both breadth and depth of support throughout the country and throughout different disciplines and specialisms within the public relations profession.
I know that by working together we will make a difference. I also know, to use another cliché, that many hands, make light work so I’d urge Alister to reconsider his stance and come into our big tent and start p*****g out.