CIPR Elections – why I chose to support Rachel Roberts

Published: 8 October 2020

I debated for ages whether to write a blog or not about the upcoming CIPR elections. Mainly because to be honest with you, I hate this time of the year. It brings out the worst in many people, friends fall out, snide remarks are made online, and throughout the whole process, I flit between disbelief and rage, which is not great for my wellbeing (or workload). But it’s important to me that the right person undertakes this integral role at CIPR. 

Firstly, The President’s role is not to be the CEO of CIPR. We already have one, his name is Alastair McCapra, and he’s brilliant. 

The President’s role (which is unpaid) is to make sure that members are getting the service that they signed up for and that their needs align with what the institution is offering. They have to work collaboratively with the CEO, the back-office staff, volunteers, council and Board members to make sure that the institution is delivering against its strategy. The role requires someone good at building relationships and someone who can work well with past and future presidents in an effective way, so it’s a smooth transition when their year tenure is over. Their main objective is to look after the needs for the majority of the members, not just a select few who shout the loudest. 

For me, they must be inclusive, kind, generous and supportive. They have to empower others to step up and be counted as well as empower those who feel like they don’t have a voice.  

Which is why my vote and support goes to Rachel Roberts. 

To have a President who is willing to listen and take action based on the needs of their members is important. Rachel’s manifesto around empowerment appealed to me because it’s inclusive and it covers voices that rarely get heard amongst the noise, these include:

  • The underrepresented PR professionals. The people who have spent years trying to prove their worth in the industry. 
  • The PR graduates / part-time workers / people who were made redundant because of the global pandemic. 
  • The young aspiring leaders who want to develop their careers and enhance their professional status. 
  • The in-house practitioners or consultants who don’t have the appetite nor the time to get involved in lengthy debates but want a community that they can learn from.

For too long the PR industry has been run by mini cliques and groups that talk amongst themselves. The decision to choose the right President for CIPR should not be on the popularity of the nominators but rather on the candidate manifestos and what they are going to bring to the role.

Do I think the CIPR needs a radical change? No I don’t. We’ve gone through a lot of radical changes recently in our day-to-day life, I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. I want a stable, supportive, solid membership that I can depend on. A membership that will help me flourish in my career and continue to give me confidence to keep pushing boundaries. Does wanting this mean I’m the voice of ‘conservatism?’ If so, then I’m comfortable with that. 

In my view, the future President shouldn’t be distracted with stuff that isn’t in their remit. Their focus should be on how they can deliver against the CIPR strategy that was launched earlier this year. This strategy was developed in conjunction with members. The President should use this and plan against it. They need to adapt as necessary so it’s relevant to whatever the economic climate is in 2022 (the year they will be the President) not throw it in the bin and forget about it.

I also think it’s important to have a membership where everyone is welcome and members feel safe enough to speak about the challenges they are facing. I want members to be proud of our professional standards and be confident that as a member they will continue to develop. I want a membership where everyone’s voice is heard and most importantly a membership where people are treated with respect, regardless of who they are. I truly believe this is something Rachel will deliver if she’s chosen as President. 

If you’re undecided or if you’ve never taken part in the voting, I urge you to take a read of both the presidential manifestos and decide on who is the best person to represent your voice as a CIPR member.


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