The PRCA changed its name this month to…the PRCA (now the Public Relations and Communications Association).
As part of a wider rebrand with new strapline, website and logo, the word ‘consultants’ has been dropped in favour of ‘communications’. Whether this will make any real difference is open to question, but the decision to change names comes after extensive consultation with members.
We recently rebranded ourselves so it would be unfair to criticise and perhaps ‘communications’ does more accurately reflect the breadth and multidisciplinary nature of the industry.
However my real question would be whether we really need two membership organisations?
I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the attraction of a trade body for me is to uphold standards in the industry and to drive improvements and professional development. Both the PRCA and CIPR achieve this and run regular training courses as well as issuing guidance and advice for members. At Acceleris we have our own training academy which focuses on the professional development of our team and we invest in external training from both the PRCA and CIPR as part of this.
The PRCA states that it represents in excess of 20,000 people in 48 countries. The CIPR is smaller and has just over 10,000 members but also has a royal charter.
However, according to the latest PRCA figures published this year, there are now 83,000 people working in PR (sorry communications) in the UK.
There appears to be a silent majority of 50,000 people who are not members of either body and I think that is the real challenge to both organisations – how to engage and remain relevant to all professional communicators.
The PR and communications industry will never truly achieve the status of other professions until there is a barrier to entry. At the moment anyone can set up a consultancy and begin giving advice – whether they’ll still be in business in six months’ time is another question. Without wishing to squash an entrepreneurial spirit, I am in favour of ensuring that everyone in the industry should share a common set of ethics and agreed best practices.
Whether PRCA, CIPR or something else, I think there are clear benefits to there being a communications trade body but do we need more than one? Perhaps a merger is in order although that might call for yet another rebrand.