Mandy Pearse, Director at Seashell Communications, started her tenure as CIPR President at the turn of the year. Mandy joined the institute in 2002, was elected to Council in 2014, served as Chair and Vice Chair of the CIPR Local Public Services Group from 2016-2020, and became both a Chartered PR and a Fellow in 2019. She has served on the CIPR Board since January 2019.

We caught up with Mandy to discuss her plans for the year.

1: What can members expect from the CIPR this year? Which key themes will be in spotlight?

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a very challenging year for our members so in 2021 the focus is firmly on delivering value, increasing engagement, and supporting people to develop their skills and careers. I want us to be sustainable, responsive and member focused.

We need to build on the excellent work done by previous Presidents to promote PR as a strategic management discipline and improve the profile and reputation of our industry. Working with business and leadership organisations is crucial to our success. We need to continue to show the impact our members have on their businesses’ reputation and bottom line.

We also need to focus on the future, to ensure our practitioners have the right skills and the confidence to compete in an increasingly uncertain world.

2: Your background includes marketing and PR, you hold an MBA and run your own business. Do you see yourself as a marketer, PR professional or business owner? Does the distinction matter?

I’m a Chartered Practitioner in both PR and marketing with convergence in the industry that is likely to become the norm. I’m also a businesswoman and have run my own business for nearly nine years.

Reputation sits at the heart of business so in that sense I’m probably PR first, but I see equal balance between the hard skills like data, finance and statistics alongside the soft skills such as ethical advice, corporate narrative and creative campaigning.

We can waste a lot of energy on definitions. I’d rather we put that energy into developing our professional skills and speaking to business about the value we bring.

3: Whats the biggest challenge facing our industry?

We are facing a decade of unprecedented change both in scale and pace. Covid 19 has accelerated trends we were seeing in the market with the move to virtual environments, greater focus on data, advances in AI and automation, and the challenges of fake news.

We need to provide trusted advice to senior management in managing reputation in this uncertain environment and to do that we have to be on top of our game both in terms of skills and ethical behaviour.

4: Whats the one thing you hope to have achieved by the end of your 2021 presidency?

I want us to be moving forward, confidently leading the PR profession, working closely with business and organisation leadership and delivering valued support to all our members regardless of career stage or global location.