TUESDAY 18 NOV 2014 5:39 PM


Change is afoot at the CIPR, in more ways than one. It has refocused in recent months on its training and education offering as part of its push toward professionalisation of the PR industry. The organisation, which has over 10,000 members, has announced that it will also be doing away with its existing media partnership to become a content developer in its own right.

President of the CIPR Stephen Waddington says, “This is part of the story of the fragmentation of media that has played out over the last 20 years. The CIPR already has strong owned and shared media channels, and through additional investment will be able to deliver better value and engagement to members.”

He points to the association’s existing reams of content and social networks as the foundations of this next step. “What we have is a tone of valuable content,” Waddington says. “We also have networks where we can engage with our members a lot better than a magazine can.” The CIPR’s panels’ and groups’ LinkedIn pages, for one, are already active in terms of conversation and content sharing. Making the decision to curate that content itself, then, is not a huge leap for the CIPR.

Yet, the value added by a magazine, newspaper or other journalistic outlet is editorial oversight. This provides quality standards for content and context to the conversation. Waddington says the panel which has been established to investigate this new strategy, comprised of himself, president-elect Rob Brown and deputy CEO Phil Morgan, among others, will consider the impact of editorial oversight.

“I’m a firm believer that with crowdsourcing you get the lowest common denominator,” Waddington says. “You also get a long trail of content, some of which is incredibly valuable, some is not. There’s still a load of value to be placed in editorial skills and in the reformatting and repurposing of that content in a way that’s accessible to members.”

The panel will allow CIPR members to contribute their views on the strategy the CIPR’s new content development will take on. Investment in distribution and content development is likely and the ability for students undertaking CIPR qualifications to contribute content is possible as well.

Alastair McCapra, CEO of the CIPR, says, “We have an opportunity to gather member views to determine what mix of content and media will best meet their needs in the context of the CIPR’s role in setting and regulating professional standards in public relations.”

The changes will come into effect in January, with relation to the CIPR’s break with PR Week, but the CIPR’s panel to advise on content development will meet throughout 2015.