So, it’s Presidential election time again in the PR world with two candidates seeking election to be CIPR President in 2021 – Rachel Royall and Mandy Pearse. I have known both ladies for a number of years, and in all fairness, I believe they would both do a brilliant job in the CIPR top role. I can only hoist my colours up one flagpole and Rachel Royall is who I am throwing my support behind. I am in stellar company as Rachel has 3 past Presidents who have nominated her, 3 current Board members (including me) and numerous PR practitioners at the top of their game already publicly backing her … and campaigning only started this week. When I first heard that Rachel was considering standing for election as President-Elect 2020 (to be President in 2021), as in previous elections I applied my usual four show-stopper criteria to decide whether I would not only vote for her, but join her campaign team.
Continuity – presidential terms of just one year, such as with the CIPR, can be problematic. If you think of a membership organisation as a super-ship you realise that it takes time for it to change course once set on a path. It is entirely possible that a new President wishes to head in an entirely different direction to that of their predecessor. If this happens year-on-year the membership organisation spends its time zig-zagging from one initiative and point of view to another which means it takes longer to deliver what members value and need. Rachel’s commitments on leadership, community and education will strengthen work CIPR is already doing, and build on recent progress. A year in office is a condensed amount of time to make an impact so I am delighted that Rachel is championing these key areas and not spreading what she wants to achieve too thinly:
- PR’s leadership role
- Improve access to PR education and skills (an area close to my heart as the current Chair of CIPR’s Professional Development and Membership Committee [PDMC]), and
- Listen to, learn and grow the membership (again, close to my heart as a CIPR board member and chair of PDMC).
Time – to do the role justice takes a surprising amount of time and commitment. The President has to be visible to the membership – which can quite literally mean turning up to the opening of an envelope – with the number of CIPR Awards events every year this is not difficult to achieve (!), and as head of the Board, being on the Finance Committee, plus the numerous operational meetings with CIPR’s senior management team, on top of their usual day job, being President requires a serious time commitment. Rachel has assured me she will devote the time, and knowing her, she will give this role her absolute all.
Experience – from my lengthy experience of working with professional bodies / trade associations, it is important that the President knows, understands and appreciates how the organisation functions. The President needs to be someone who has earnt their stripes and for the CIPR this means they have served on Board and/or Council, plus done their time with the membership committees such as the regional / sectoral groups, to fully understand the wide range of areas of the organisation and how it functions. Rachel has definitely earnt her stripes over her many years of involvement with the CIPR. She is a current Council member, is on the Finance Committee and is the current Chair of the CIPR Health Group.
Ethics – the person who represents the PR profession needs to exude the values we all hold dear in fellow practitioners – honesty, integrity and transparency. There is no room for smoke and mirrors in PR. Rachel has these qualities in spades. My day job centres on effective membership engagement by trade associations and professional bodies. It is so easy for members, especially those who give their time as volunteers, to feel disenfranchised from the organisation. That is why I am delighted that Rachel wants to harness the energy and commitment of the volunteers to drive our industry forward. Her way is to empower them to drive our industry forward. From her own experience with the CIPR, Rachel knows how important it is for the groups to feel they are valued by the CIPR and are listened to. With members on the committees experts in their field, it is important they are able to push initiatives forward to further the profession. This is what Rachel did with the CIPR Health Group. Rachel wants PR to be a happy, healthy profession so individuals can achieve their full potential. Under her chairmanship, the CIPR Health Group published a brand new skills guide and webinar this week which is aimed at improving the understanding of mental health and wellbeing in public relations. This initiative was led by the Health Group with the backing and support of the CIPR HQ. https://twitter.com/CIPR_UK/status/1164462331453198336
Who will you vote for?
In the interests of fairness, CIPR members need to consider both candidates and make up their own mind who to vote for as CIPR President 2021. I may be tieing my colours to Rachel Royall, but Mandy Pearse is a top lady too as well as someone I also respect greatly. Read both their manifestos and then make your own informed decision.
As members only get one vote, this year Rachel gets mine. Look out for your voting papers which will be emailed on 2nd September – voting opens at 5pm the same day and closes at 5pm on 16th September. If you want to throw your support publicly behind Rachel, please use #VoteRachel and #CIPRElection.