So … the Presidential race for the CIPR has now begun – nominations were announced this morning and the ‘contest’ is between Jason MacKenzie and Andy Green. I have known both gentlemen for a number of years and can say with all honesty that they are both great guys.
I can only pin my flag to one candidate and Jason MacKenzie gets my vote. In fact, I am one of the 10 CIPR members who nominated him. I am in stellar company in this regard as Jason’s nominators include five previous CIPR Presidents – to see who supports Jason see testimonials on his personal website.
When Jason first asked me if I would support his run for President I had four criteria which I considered and in my opinion Jason passes on all four counts.
- Continuity – the CIPR needs a President who is going to continue on the same trajectory as we have been on for the last few years, started by the 2014 President, Wadds. I believe PR is on the right path and needs someone at the helm to navigate the CIPR forward and not alter course and divert time, energy and resources away from what I feel is important for the future of PR … professionalism.
- Time – to do the role of CIPR President justice the individual needs to devote a substantial amount of time to it as being President is far more than being a figurehead / mouthpiece. This is not an easy ask as the individual needs to also be a practitioner (Lis-Lewis-Jones, Jason’s business partner, says in her supporting statement: “As a past president I know the demands of the role. Jason has the energy to manage it and as a company we are ensuring that he has the time to do it too.”)
- Experience – from my lengthy involvement 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 by this I mean has served on Council, and preferably the Board, plus has done their time in the regions and on committees to fully understand a wide range of areas of the organisation.
- Ethics – the person who represents the PR profession needs to exude the values we all hold dear in fellow practitioners – honesty, integrity and above all transparency. There is no room for smoke and mirrors in PR.
There is a lot of debate buzzing around at the moment about whether PR is a profession. The real issue is in how practitioners operate and I believe the emphasis needs to be on us being professional in all that we do in order for us to earn that all-important respect for the role we have and the value we bring to organisations. Professionalism is one of the cornerstones of Jason’s manifesto and one of his priorities is to ensure that CIPR membership becomes synonymous with excellence, professionalism and ethics.
The CIPR is a large membership organisation representing circa 11,000 individuals*. Not all can, or want to, be fully engaged with the Institute so the challenge is how to make the offering compelling for more members to interact with and make use of their professional body. Jason wants to build on the work of recent years and believes there should not be a two-tier membership of those ‘in the know’ about the value of being a CIPR member and those on the fringes. * Research by the Professional Associations Research Network published this month (September 2015) found that the average number of members for a UK professional body is 5,493.
On a macro level, 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 need.
Once on the right path – which I believe the CIPR is firmly on following what Wadds’ started as the 2014 President – then it is important for subsequent Presidents to continue this trajectory until the deed is done in order for members to benefit from the results. Sarah Pinch (2015 President) is further developing what Wadds’ started, Rob Brown (2016 President) intends to do the same, and if Jason is elected President for 2017 then he has pledged to continue this march to professionalism for PR.
On a micro level, Jason wants the CIPR to embark on the most ambitious membership drive of its history. Representing more practitioners gives the CIPR greater influence, a greater share of voice and the ability to engage meaningfully to further the practice of PR.
I am firmly behind Jason MacKenzie to be the 2017 CIPR President for the above reasons, and more. If you want more detail on what Jason stands for and wants to achieve then read his manifesto on the CIPR website.
My statement of support for Jason, says: “Integrity, honesty, transparency – three essential traits for a PR professional that Jason has in abundance. I believe Jason has the qualities we need in a leader to continue with the modernisation agenda and move towards greater recognition of PR and the vital role it has in businesses being successful.”
In the interests of fairness and balance, and because I also think he is a top bloke, you can also read Andy Green’s manifesto on the CIPR website.