Life after PR Week. What’s next for the CIPR?

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It’s nearly January and a new year brings with it a PR Week shaped hole in the offer from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

PR Week was a tangible benefit for CIPR members. It landed on your desk with a thud that said “membership”. That’s going to be a miss and while it won’t have a immediate effect I think it will be important come renewal time.

Saying that, I agree with the decision. The old subsidised model based on reciprocal adverts and job advertising has been devalued as owned and free channels have come to the fore. The relationship was too unsymmetrical and an investment by the CIPR to provide the publishers of PR week with a ready made and verified readership was a little strange to me.

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Members liked CIPR week but this is an opportunity to create something new and exciting. So what’s next? For me the solution – whatever it is – needs to achieve the following:

  • The solution needs to offer better value than the alternative investment in PR week to members across the country.
  • The value added has to be exclusive to members
  • A physical aspect to the offer is important to remind people about membership, at least for now
  • You’ve got to have rhythm. A periodical carries weight, used well it can be an event, it can set the tone for an industry and gets tongues wagging
  • It needs to appeal to practitioners across the board working in many different professions and in sectors
  • An appeal to the heart as well as the head, community is important to the PR industry and should be cultivated.

The obvious choice, a membership magazine feels a little too tried and will draw direct comparisons with PR Week, a dangerous road to follow.

The interim advice from the assembled CIPR editorial board is investment in the PR Conversation. Investing in a blog aggregation platform that members write the content for and is open to the public is bit of a raw deal for me. I’m happy to be proven wrong, though.

A social network for PRs has been tried before and failed. We already have linkedIn and this isn’t a option.

I would like the CIPR to look towards organisations like econsultancy. I’ve had access to the odd econsultancy report in return for taking part in research and they are genuinely useful. Perhaps a move to provide exclusive information to members to save them time and money would be useful. A sort of “which” magazine for PROs with investment in translating research into practice and money spent on developing exclusive tools and research led advice that go beyond the member created guides.

Away from publishing, is there enough money to reduce entry prices into PRide and the CIPR Excellence awards? A quarterly glossy publication of the top campaigns (as voted for by members) with real campaign insight could be a viable alternative and give members that “moment”.

There are no easy answers to the current situation, I wish I had them to offer. This is my contribution to the debate, the original announcement has others, where are yours?

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Copyright Joe Walton 2015. Please use and reshare with attribution and links.