After some consideration, I have decided to put myself forward for election to CIPR Council for 2015 & 2016. Although I’m still Chair of CIPR Yorkshire & Lincolnshire until the end of 2014, I’ve decided to stand on the Open List (Justin is standing on the Region List for Y&L).

And first off, I’d like to thank Deborah Copeland, Stefan Casey, Pat Gaudin, Steve Falla and Annette Spencer for signing the nomination form.

So why do I want a further two years on Council? Well, lots of reasons.

Let’s start with ‘professionalism’. I firmly believe that we are, now, a ‘public relations profession’. We set ourselves the highest standards of practice and take action against those members who fall short. We encourage and promote professional development and life-long learning.

A far cry from the ‘chickens go in, pies come out’ approach of the discredited PR industry of Max Clifford and his ilk. The idea that public relations can be practiced by anyone – whether they have a related skill or not – is out of date. I know from my own working experience that this approach always fails and it’s left to the actual public relations practitioners to do the bailing-out.

But there is an elephant in the room: the CIPR only represents around 10,500 practitioners. There’s far more than that in PR roles. We can encourage clients to contract professional, ethical public relations practitioners but it doesn’t follow that everyone will become a member of the CIPR (just as it doesn’t follow that everyone will contract a professional, ethical public relations practitioner).

There’s an awful lot more we need to do to attract more members. The cost of membership is too high – I don’t just mean the financial outlay. What do members get for their £200? How can we encourage more practitioners to join? Can we persuade more agencies to help out and pay for membership costs? If they don’t like webinars (I don’t), or want to be President, stand for Council, Chair a Group or help on a Committee, why would you join? Is it really only because of the free copy of PR Week once a month?

Having spent the last year on the Professional Development & Membership Committee, these are questions I ask; sometimes I wonder if the answers I get are the ones I want to hear, but I will never shy away from asking for costs and charges to be broken down and justified – we are a not-for-profit organisation, after all. And if elected I have indicated a preference to sit on the same Standing Committee.

Active, engage members are important at the local and sector level. We need Committees capable of supporting the CPD / professionalism agenda, and we also need members willing to (a) join those Committees and (b) attend the events that are held. In turn, that means Committees need support from Russell Square.

My Chartership Paper is about Groups; I think they are due an overhaul. We tell organisations to employ public relations professionals, then assign a role such as Group Treasurer to whomever we can convince or coerce to do the job. And it’s a crappy job, they tell me.

As a Chair, I think we could do much more to strengthen the links between the Groups (who have closer access to the members) and the policy-setting Council & Board. So that’s what I would use my two-year term to strive towards.

I don’t expect it to be easy, but if you feel that any of these notions chime with what you feel, then please vote for me on (from) Monday 1 September.