One, Two, Three

They say things come in threes.  Well that has definitely been the case for me.  Firstly I am announced as President Elect for the CIPR for 2014; then I was awarded a Fellowship and on Friday 22nd at the CIPR SW Pride awards….I was awarded Outstanding Contribution to the CIPR SW, honoured with a gold award. It was such a surprise, trying to say something coherent about what it mean to me off the cuff wasn’t easy; but when I looked back at my opening speech, welcoming everyone to the awards.  I realised it said everything I wanted to say, so here it is: Welcome the CIPR SW Pride Awards!  If you have fab shoes, tweet it, if you’re growing a Mo, tweet a photo – if you want to share memories from the last ten years – tweet it.  Last year Dieter Lloyd was dancing on his knees and my mother was trending on twitter – my expectations are running high for this evening’s party.  I trust yours are too; don’t let me down!

  But before we run away with the party, I want to welcome a few folk.  The CIPR is a membership organisation run by hundreds of volunteers up and down the country and supported by a dedicated team in London.  I’m delighted that Alastair our new CEO is here this evening, along with some of his team.  Welcome.  It is also great to have Ruth Wyatt, editor of PR Week with us; the team from Precise and Specialist Speakers.  We’re also pleased to welcome our two regional sponsors, Minchin & Grimshaw and of course, Mentor, not only a sponsor but Magnus Carter will be joining me later on stage to MC this year’s events. Over the last three years, as chair of the CIPR SW I’ve made it our mission and vision as a committee to make membership meaningful for all our members across the South West.  Taking every available opportunity to promote the professionalism of PR and communications.  Over the last 12 months, we’ve held more than a dozen events across the region, covering everything from social media, to evaluation – and of course, our very successful conference with over 140 communications professionals and a very sweary Fleet Street Fox. For the last 13 years, I have held senior communications roles in some of the most challenging sectors; public transport, international development and the NHS.  Some of you here this evening know very well the issues those sectors face – on a daily basis; or hourly, if you are the NHS.  The support and value offered to me – and to all members, from the CIPR has been invaluable, improving my skills, my knowledge, enabling me to build a strong network –that’s offered me (and I  know many of you) great support through some really challenging times.  I looked for CIPR membership in the agencies I appointed, staff I employed and now, in my own consultancy, I wear my badge with great pride. But why are these awards and membership of the CIPR important.  Because it means, I believe, that we mean business.  We are professional.  We achieve results.  We drive up engagement, sales, reputation, fundraising; we lower staff turnover, sickness, apathy, brand damage.  How?  Through inspirational campaigns and sheer hard work, that’s what we’ll see tonight.  We’re also some of the best networkers who know more about stakeholder management than any Finance Director could ever dream of.  We are, thank god, getting much better at evaluation, more confident about our own profession and we love what we do. It has been the most phenomenal privilege to serve as your chair, thank you to those of you who have gone above and beyond the cause of duty to challenge me, support me, buy me a drink – but most of all do something great for members and our profession. Behind every successful chair is a very successful committee – and in my case a fantastically supportive husband, I couldn’t do it without you John.  The committee; be upstanding.  Thank you.  If you would like to get involved in the committee, there are some fliers on the table about roles we have available for next year.  If you are not a member – get out – please speak to me, or any of the committee or officers of the institute this evening.  It’s the right thing to do. If you fancy a drink, networking and some insights into 2014, please join us in Bristol on Tuesday 3rd December at Urban Wood from 6pm – details on your table.  And we’re going to have two events in Exeter and Cornwall in December or January too.  If you’ve ideas for topics, or you want to host or speak an event, please do let us know. Next year brings yet more changes and challenges.  The recession, we are told is over, but budgets and wages are not yet increasing.  We’ll have to work harder and inevitably play harder.  And I know we’ll deliver yet more fabulous award winning campaigns.  For me, I leave a committee in fabulous shape and go on to be President Elect.  Something I am not quite yet used to saying. It’s a very exciting time, following in Sue’s footsteps and working alongside the new President, the phenomenon that is Stephen Waddington. Every year we raise money for a different charity, this year it’s the fabulous Street Smart – and just before I welcome Glenn Pougnet to the stage to tell you about the great work they do.  I want to talk about prizes!  Have we got some amazing raffle prizes for you to win this evening?  From a cask of Bath Ales to swim and lunch at the Bristol Lido, tickets for the London Eye, a Pink Lady tent and lots of goodies, signed copy of the Polpo cookbook…and so many more. After note:  We raised nearly £1k for StreetSmart, you can read about all the winners here.  I’m deeply honoured to have received the award.  Thank you.

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Sarah Pinch FCIPR, MIoD is MD of Pinch Point Communications, President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in 2015, and a Non Executive Director of the Health and Safety Executive.

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