While I’m a member of two professional bodies – the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) – I’ve never really got into the governance and committee side of the organisations.
But over time I’ve begun to appreciate the significance of the leadership of these bodies and the role that they can play in the development of the professional space that I spend my days and evenings in.
As a public sector communicator and marketer, the CIM has become increasingly irrelevant to me as it has failed to adequately recognise the diversity of the marketing profession and the role that behavioural marketing plays in the public sector.
But the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) has become increasingly relevant to my work over the past few months and I’ve been very impressed with their offer and their ability to engage flexibly with the diverse parts of the communications profession.
And that brings me to the CIPR.
I’ve been a member for many years now and have seen the organisation transition from an out-of-date legacy institution to a far more progressive and engaging professional body. The combination of strong leadership and a ground-up effort from social media-literate members has really pushed forward the organisation and maintained its relevance in this rapidly evolving communications environment.
That’s why this year’s election for CIPR President-Elect seems so significant.
To me it feels like the election is a choice between two directions for the leadership of the institute. And that’s why I’m paying attention this year more than I ever have done before.
There are two candidates – Dr Jon White and Stephen Waddington. I don’t know either of them personally, although I “know” Stephen through his online content on his blog and Twitter.
Reading both their personal statements on the CIPR site, it seems like members are faced with a clear choice – between a strong, focussed and relevant vision for the institute and a vision that seems grounded in the academic sphere of public relations.
While I place great value in the importance of academic research and theory underpinning professional practice, the locus of our profession is in practice. It’s in the decisions and actions that communications people take day in day out in response to the unique environments that they face.
And in that context, Stephen’s vision seems clear, bold and covers all the areas that I consider important for the future of our profession. He seems to have the all-round view of the challenges that we face and can articulate a direction that fits with the way I see communications developing.
So that’s why for me Stephen’s vision for the organisation resonates much more strongly than Jon’s. And that’s why he’ll be getting my vote for President-Elect this year.
Voting opens on 7 May and closes on 21 May, so if you’re a CIPR member make sure you check out the candidates and make your vote count!