Celebrating the history and future of the CIPR

Today, January 9, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Institute of Public Relations. To mark the occasion 2018 President Sarah Hall hosted a special reception at St Bride’s in Fleet Street. You can read her speech below:

Celebrating the future of public relations

Thank you all for being here to celebrate it with us. It is both humbling and inspiring to be in a room with so many of the people who have made both the CIPR and the public relations industry great.

The next 70 years in public relations

Having marked the passage of time and celebrated the present during the service at St Bride’s, I am now keen to look to the future.

We are in unusual and uncertain times with political turbulence, media upheaval, technological change and societal unrest.

It’s in these times that the role of the professional communicator as a strategic adviser comes to the fore.

Organisations need public relations practitioners to bring clarity and insight; members of the public need us to provide information that they can trust.

Brands need us to help them develop social purpose – especially now, after years of austerity, when investment into public services is down and the unprecedented use of food banks continues to rise.

To quote the Professor Anne Gregory, the CIPR President who led us through the Charter process in 2004:

“Organisations are being forced to re-think their purpose and how they gain and maintain their legitimacy not only with their immediate stakeholders, but to society more widely.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The purpose of public relations

Organisations need to focus on their purpose and legacy and those playing a positive and active role within our communities create multiple benefits to all. It falls to us to use our influence to help make this happen.

My drive as President of the CIPR this year is to reassert public relations as a strategic management function and to demonstrate the value we bring to organisations.

It’s an exciting time – I truly believe is that there has never been a better time to work in this profession and we are on the cusp of recognising huge value and growth.

Dr Jon White, characterised a very similar opportunity almost 20 years ago, in 1999, in a paper to the Swiss Public Relations Society.

Jon sounded a note of caution that success was dependent on practitioners recognising ‘the opportunities presented by the environment and management needs’ and taking ‘steps to educate and train themselves’, as well as making ‘full use of communication technology, to provide reliable, if not indispensable, services to managers as they seek to deal with complexity and manage successful businesses.’

Sage words indeed. Please consider this as a renewed call to action.

Chartered status at the heart of the public relations profession

There is more disruption coming to the world of public relations in the form of artificial intelligence and automation. With threats come opportunity.

It is imperative we look to the horizon and make sense of incoming change, both in a personal and professional capacity.

At the CIPR, our intention is to innovate and lead the way by promoting the elevated advisory role our members ought and deserve to occupy.

I’m going to close by talking about the CIPR’s ongoing drive to professionalism.

I look forward to the day when Chartered status is no longer something to aspire to, but is the norm. Where strategic, leadership and ethical skills are common place.

We must continue to develop skills that allow us operate at the top of our game, speak truth to power and give credible advice based on knowledge, experience and insight.

If we hold financial, business management and consultancy skills we can command the respect of management teams by speaking their language.

If we demonstrate what the true value of public relations is, the leaders of organisations will invest in it.

The business of public relations has a great opportunity to grow and succeed. We just need to step forward and take it.

Thank you for listening. Please join me in a toast to the CIPR’s role at the heart of public relations over the next 70 years.

Image of St Bride’s courtesy of Flickr user Steve Cadman.


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