The Council’s new Chairman, Jon Chandler CMPRCA, CEO, Quiller Communications, led the meeting at the London offices of Lewis Silkin, which drew together over 60 PR and communications practitioners from across the industry. Chandler led a discussion on ‘Setting the case for a rethink of our purpose’.
Chandler said: “The events of 2017 certainly put the role and PR and communications in the spotlight. Ethics, business practices, fake news, systemic suppression of ‘bad news’ – have all challenged the role played – and that should be played – by the PR and comms advisor, in-house and agency, collectively and individually.
“In my experience, PR advisors are generally pressing their organisations or clients to achieve higher standards, deliver more social value, and frankly, to do the right thing. I don’t think the world has necessarily woken up to the fact we are playing an increasingly valuable and progressive role, reflecting society back to leaders and advocating and driving positive change.”
The news comes after a year in which the ethics of the PR and communications industry has been in the spotlight, following the PRCA’s termination of Bell Pottinger’s membership after it was found to have broken its Code of Conduct.
The Council agreed that it will aim to develop industry thinking and insights around the potential for PR and communications to develop its role as a challenging voice to improve the behaviour of business and society, and to deliver greater social value.
Amanda Coleman FPRCA, Head of Corporate Communication, Greater Manchester Police, and Vice-chairman, PR and Communications Council, argued that a communications strategy that has “protecting reputation” as its aim is fundamentally flawed.
She said: “The role of the police communicator has changed almost beyond recognition in the last 20 years. Communicators are in a unique position in that they see across the organisation, they operate at the strategic and tactical level, and they can challenge senior officers around behaviour and decision making. It is vital that we show the real operational benefits from PR and communications so that we can leave the ‘fluff’ image behind.”
Other speakers included Richard Fogg CMPRCA, CEO, CCGroup; Tomos Edwards CMPRCA, Head of Global Research Communications, EMEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Mark Hutcheon, Communications and Brand Director, Williams F1 Group.
Research, debate and collateral around the issue will be included in the PRCA National Conference 2018, which will take place at BAFTA in September.
The PR and Communications Council provides a formal mechanism to consult with the industry’s most senior practitioners on the issues PR faces; to act as a think-tank for the industry; to inform the PRCA’s strategic priorities; and to produce helpful commentary, advice and best-practice guidance for PR and communications professionals. The PR and Communications Council was established in 2010.