OPINION: 50 YEARS OF THE PRCA
With a golden anniversary in the works, Francis Ingham discusses the increased international presence of the PRCA and the organisation’s support for the international PR industry
You may have picked up on the fact that 2019 is the PRCA’s 50th year.
We’re announcing a raft of activities to mark this golden anniversary. We’re also proud to say that after an unparalleled year of growth in 2018 – including the APPC merger, and the launch of PRCA southeast Asia – we now represent well over 30,000 practitioners, making the PRCA the world’s largest PR professional body.
A little history lesson for you. The PRCA was founded on 5 November 1969 as a membership body for PR consultancies. We began accepting in-house members in 2009, and in 2011 we broadened our remit to include individuals. Over the past 50 years, we have helped launch PR associations all around the world, and operate offices in Singapore and Dubai. We also manage ICCO, the umbrella body for 41 PR associations.
And it’s on that final international point that I’d like to dwell. 2019 will be the year when we further develop the UK PR industry’s role in the international PR market.
To that end, you may have recently read that the PRCA has appointed Barry Leggetter as our first international president. Leggetter comes with an impressive pedigree. He’s spent more than 25 years in international public relations consultancies during which he was UK CEO for Porter Novelli, FleishmanHillard and GolinHarris, and was also international chairman of Bite. He also held the role of CEO of AMEC, which he left after 11 years in December 2018.
Beginning on 25 February, Leggetter will focus on international membership development, and will work to grow existing PRCA regional offices in southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa; and to create new associations in other regions of the world. Leggetter will also focus on improving the commercial value of PRCA’s work, including its responsibility for delivering the ICCO Global Summit and the ICCO Global Awards.
Leggetter will be a fundamental part of the PRCA’s drive to build on our status as the world’s largest PR association, and to expand our offering to other parts of the world. He will transform us from an international organisation to a truly global one. He is a proven leader with a global perspective for driving engagement and real change and I am personally delighted he has joined us – the clearest possible sign of our intent to continue to grow globally.
As we move forward we have to be mindful that communications is an increasingly international proposition – and the industry increasingly thinks at a global level. And I’m very firm in my belief that the UK industry is the right one to take the lead on driving international standards forward. The work that ICCO has already done with the Helsinki Declaration provides a strong foundation from which we are building our role as leading the global discussion around ethics and standards of professionalism.
But do not think that the PRCA will be taking its eye off the ball within the UK. Our 50th year will also see us take a renewed focus on the nations and regions of the UK, as we roll out a series of events all across the country continuing the discussion about the future of our industry.
The PR and communications industry has changed fundamentally since the PRCA launched in 1969, but our mission remains the same – to be its voice. And now that the PRCA is the largest PR professional body not just in the UK, or indeed in Europe, but in the world, that voice has never been louder or clearer.
The professionalisation of this industry, combined with the proliferation of new skills, means that we face the next 50 years with enormous opportunities. We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary with pride and optimism, and look forward to a year of reflection, celebration, and discussion. I hope that you can join us.
Francis Ingham is director general of the PRCA