TUESDAY 22 OCT 2019 9:02 AM


Some 70% of communications professionals think the industry’s two trade bodies should merge, according to a pulse check survey conducted exclusively for Communicate by Question&Retain.

The sample, drawn from practitioners across the industry, comprised members of both bodies, members of one and of neither. The pulse check survey asked one question: “Do you think the PRCA and the CIPR should merge?” Only 20% said no and 10% expressed no opinion. The independent research is designed to take the temperature of the industry as an indicator of feeling rather than as an exhaustive piece of research.

Responses ranged from the succinct: “unity is strength” and “it is stupid to have two competing professional bodies”, to the detailed.

“It’s obvious that one united voice carries more weight than two sometimes dissonant ones. Despite their different traditions, both organisations are full of intelligent people and have much in common. Resolving what, in the grand scheme of communications life, are minor differences of approach should not be an insurmountable issue. Stronger together,” one respondent volunteered.

“There does not seem room for two similar bodies and having been members of both the CIPR offers more breadth and depth. Joining them together would also help in-house/agency career paths and mean that overall the discipline was more effective and could deliver more impact,” said another.

“I am a member of both and think it would be easier (and more cost effective) if there was just one organisation. In general PRCA is more relevant and helpful but CIPR offers the professional membership and recognised accreditation with other bodies, otherwise I wouldn't remain a member of both,” said a participant.

Of the 20% not in favour of merger, responses included, “Collaborate yes. Merge no” and “I feel competition in any industry is healthy and provides a competitive edge to the services and training/learning provided. Having one combined provider does not give any advantage to the member, as currently the CIPR and PRCA attracts members for different reasons. PRCA also appears to be heavily London centric and does not provide the outreach in the regions for networking and training courses.”

The unification of the bodies representing PR and communications professionals has been a hot topic since PRCA director general Francis Ingham raised the issue in an interview with Communicate. This followed hard on the heels of CIPR members criticising the CIPR draft strategy on social media, which was put out to consultation in August.

Ingham commented, “This poll reflects our long-standing view that merger between the PRCA and the CIPR would be in the best interests of the industry and that if for some reason merger cannot happen, that deep collaboration most certainly should.

“I can confirm that Alastair [McCapra, CEO of the CIPR] and I have exchanged views, but it would be inappropriate to say anything more detailed for the time being,” he added.

CIPR deputy CEO Phil Morgan responded, “The CIPR has just conducted a consultation with members on our strategic direction, which gave participants several opportunities to contribute ideas that may be missing or could be added to our proposals. The 118 detailed and constructive responses do not indicate any appetite for a merger, nor did our recent member survey, which gained more than 500 responses.

“Without recourse to the Privy Council, the CIPR can merge with any organisation that is willing to surrender its governance structure and adopt our existing charter. Any arrangement with another organisation that would require amendments to our charter would require Privy Council approval,’ he concluded.

In total 122 comms pros took part in our dipstick research.


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