Approximately 10% of Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) members class themselves as an independent practitioner / freelance PR. A fact I was initially surprised at that there are so many. When I then thought about it I realised that there are many reasons why a PR professional chooses to branch out on their own and now I am surprised that there are not more!
Think about it … some PRs choose to be independent as a permanent career choice, others as a short-term stopgap between jobs, and others as a prelude to starting their own agency. A recent straw poll I took of PR practitioners who chose freelance as the way to manage their career gave their reasons as:
- flexibility to fit work and home life together
- ability to have more holiday time
- work the hours that suit you and your lifestyle
- get away from office politics
- total responsibility for what went well and what went wrong
It’s not all plain sailing, but for those who want more flexibility and control over the work they do, for whom they work, and the number of hours worked, a career in PR can certainly provide this.
What’s in a name?
- account executive / account manager / account director etc in agencies
- assistant / officer / manager etc when in-house
Working for yourself means you can call yourself what you like – finance director, CEO, chief cook & bottle washer (as you do everything)! Seriously though, what should you call yourself?
At a freelancer roundtable held by the CIPR last month that I attended, when we introduced ourselves it varied between freelance and independent consultant. A few of the roundtable attendees felt that freelancers were those employed by agencies / departments to work on specific projects and were called upon as extra manpower when the need arose. Others felt that Independent Consultant suited them as they had strategic roles and their own clients. A discussion ensued and Independent Practitioner was a title that we all agreed on as it sits snugly alongside the CIPR’s Accredited Practitioner and Chartered Practitioner statuses. Mmm, I quite like Independent Practitioner.
The role of the CIPR for independent practitioners
Whatever the reason you decided to got-it-alone, and whatever you choose to call yourself, the CIPR has an important role in supporting you to be the best you can be and provide a top-notch service for your clients. If you are one of the 10% of CIPR members who are ‘independent’, or even if you are ‘independent’ and not a CIPR member, do you think the CIPR is fit-for-purpose when it comes to supporting you in your PR career?
I want my professional body to help me develop professionally and in my business. To me, this means helping me learn the skills I need to keep up-to-date in the ever-changing world of PR / marketing so I can give great advice. It also means I want guidance and advice on how to run my business and win new clients. Do you think the CIPR delivers for you?
The CIPR needs to know what we, as independent practitioners / freelance PRs, need. Being there for members in-house and agency is tried and tested, but for anyone who has worn an independent hat for any length of time knows, our needs are not always the same as theirs.
The CIPR has already started on the road to finding out what we need, last month’s roundtable I mentioned above was a great first step and what came out of that session will be discussed at the next Council meeting. There is a lot the CIPR can do to support us and provide real tangible value for our membership fee, and they want to do this.
Elections for CIPR Council
Voting in the Council elections started today and I am standing for one of the eight seats on the ‘open’ list, i.e. not affiliated to a sectoral or regional group. One of my platforms is to work with the CIPR to ensure services are relevant and fit-for-purpose in both a professional and business development context for freelancers / independents. The CIPR already asks for my input on freelance matters but I know I will be able to be more effective from the inside-out by being part of Council and the CIPR’s decision-making.
The CIPR wants to give members the tools to demonstrate our value and to win respect so our profession is taken seriously as an important strategic management function. The Institute has changed dramatically over the last year or so, under the watch of Stephen Waddington as President and his modernisation agenda. The 2015 President, Sarah Pinch, has pledged to continue the changes with her march to professionalism, and there will be more in the same vein from Rob Brown, announced last month as President-Elect to follow on from Sarah in 2016.
I do not want to sit back and see what happens. I want to be part of what happens. A vote for me in this month’s CIPR Council elections will be a vote to get the freelance / independent voice included in decision-making to move the CIPR and the PR profession forward.
I welcome your views on the role and needs of Independent PR Practitioners, or my other two platforms of professional development and standards and the gender gap. You can read my nomination statement for more detail on the CIPR website. Leave a comment below and let’s get the conversation started.
Have your say
If you are a CIPR member then please remember to vote and have your say in the future of the CIPR. Read all the nomination statements of the 38 candidates standing for election and make your decision. You can vote for as many as you see fit, though the order you vote for people in is important as it is a Single Transferable Vote system.
Voting is open now and will close on 22nd September.
If you have not yet received your email from the CIPR which contains your unique voting number (UVN) , then check your Spam folder as there have been reports of the email landing in these. You can also contact UK Engage who are running the election on behalf of the CIPR at email@example.com. Once you have the email, the link to the online voting system and your UVN, all you have to do is VOTE … VOTE … VOTE … (hopefully for me!).
P.S. I am delighted to say that I have been elected to the CIPR Council for 2015/2016. I have also been co-opted onto the Board and made Chair of the CIPR Professional Development and Membership Committee.