It’s about purpose, status and reason

It’s about Making Membership Meaningful

So I’m standing for election to the CIPR Council – the body that helps set the strategic direction of the Institute and provides the checks and balances of oversight for its elected Board and full-time staff.

In many ways, I think the CIPR is in pretty good shape. The changes it has undergone in recent years have returned it to profitability and restored its purpose.  I think the developments that I introduced during my time as Treasurer and as President were significant steps on the road to profitability; but it is the work of the Presidents that followed that helped restore the purpose.

The challenge now is to ensure that purpose is recognised, to respond to competitive pressures the Institute faces, and to make the most of its point of differentiation.

The PRCA’s decision to rebrand, and to drop Consultants from its name, is the latest step on its move towards becoming almost a copycat body.  Remember, just a few years ago, the PRCA was a trade association for PR agencies. There was clear blue water between the trade body (PRCA) and the individual membership body, our professional Institute, the CIPR.

That is no longer the case.  The PRCA now accepts “in-house” teams into membership; it also has individual members; it has Fellows, it has a Council, it runs a regional award scheme called DARE – a name that has echoes of the CIPR’s well established PRIDE Awards.  I think the loss of the clear blue water between the two organisations is a shame – but I can understand and even admire the commercial motivation that has brought the PRCA closer and closer to the CIPR model.

But only the CIPR has the Royal Charter.  And only the CIPR can award Chartered status to individuals in the profession, and also approve the University degrees and courses that can create the path to Accredited and then Chartered Practitioner.

So the task facing the CIPR now, and its elected Board and Council, is to ensure that Chartered status – both of the Institute and the individuals who achieve it – is not only widely recognised but highly valued across the profession.

Because then, when someone asks me – “why should I join the CIPR?” the answer becomes simple. To get Chartered, to get respect and recognition for your skills, to get a new job, to get a promotion or win a major piece of business.  To get better.  Or, in the words of our President-elect Jason McKenzie: “to be hired first, paid more and promoted faster.”

So if you elect me to the CIPR Council – I promise to do my bit to ensure that the Institute, its Council, its board, its staff and its volunteers, are given the tools to get that message out to our existing and potential members, to employers, and to other professional bodies and influencers.   Because if we deliver on that; we make membership meaningful both for those in the tent and for those that wish to enter.


EU shows world the way in data protection

The much maligned EU today approved a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that standardises and harmonises consumer rights across Europe.  The GDPR includes among its provisions the “right to be forgotten”, the right to know if your data has been hacked, the right to transfer your data, and increased fines for companies found guilty of breaching the regulation.

But although it will be the consumer protection that attracts headlines, businesses should welcome these rules as well.  First out of the traps to do so was the GSMA – the world trade body for mobile operators.  The GSMA described the introduction of stronger consumer rights and harmonised rules across Europe as “fundamental to building trust and driving the uptake of new digital services by citizens across Europe.”

The GSMA also immediately turned its attention to the EU’s upcoming review of its e-Privacy Directive – saying the right balance needs to be struck between “protecting confidentiality of communications and fostering a market where innovation and investment will flourish.”

The fact is that telecoms and mobile service providers have long operated in fear of the regulator.  They cast envious eyes at the businesses that companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have created out of harvesting data and think to themselves – “the regulators would never allow us to do that.”

So clarity (within Europe to start with) of what you can do with data, how you to have store it, and the rights of the consumers who theoretically ‘own it’ will of course be welcomed by the telco operator community.  Maybe now, they can plot a clear (allowable) route to new business initiatives and sales that take advantage of the mountain of data that is generated by their networks.

The move by the EU is groundbreaking.  Talking to the Guardian, Phil Lee a data protection partner at law-firm FieldFisher said as much adding: “The simple fact is that the global standard for data protection will now be dictated by European rules.”

If correctly drafted, these rules and the e-Privacy Directive, will indeed lead the world in protecting consumers while enabling new business.  Quite an achievement.