FRIDAY 9 DEC 2011 12:06 PM


The PRCA, a professional body representing UK PR consultancies, in-house teams, freelancers and individuals, has withdrawn today from the UK Public Affairs Council over its attempts to create a register of all those working in public affairs.

In a letter to the council by Francis Ingham, chief executive of the PRCA and previously one of the seven board members of UKPAC, the putative register is referred to as “incomplete, inaccurate and unreliable.” Ingham also writes that “the organisation simply lacks any credibility.”

The decision to withdraw has been criticised by the CIPR, one of the other professional bodies belonging to UKPAC. “This is a disappointing move, undertaken without consultation, which we believe will ultimately be counter-productive.” says Jane Wilson, CEO.

As one of the three professional bodies and founder members of UKPAC, alongside the CIPR and APPC, the PRCA has previously supported the idea of a register of public affairs practitioners.

However, PRCA chairman Sally Costerton comments that over the last 18 months, the PRCA has concluded that its delivery by UKPAC is unworkable. “We have concluded that the register is best held by an independent body, and should include all those who work in public affairs, not just those employed in multi-client consultancies,” she says.

But given the press lobbying and public affairs communications has received this week, Wilson believes that the PRCA’s withdrawal will have a further negative effect on the industry. “Unity in PR is crucial at this time to make sure that the current negative impressions of lobbying in the media don’t lead to over-regulation,” she comments.

The PRCA believes that self-regulation, via the existing codes of PR professional bodies, is the most effective way forward for the industry. Ingham’s letter concludes with urging UKPAC to publish its consultation paper on regulation and registration in order to speed up the process of reform of the industry.

On this point at least, the PRCA and the CIPR are in agreement. Wilson says: “The government should get on with the production of the report and movement on reform. Any delay now will make the consultation less effective, and further extend the period in which ethical lobbyists and PA communicators, who operate to the highest standards, are misrepresented.”