President’s Retrospective

12 years, 10 months ago


Philip Sheppard looks back on his 2007 presidency and casts an eye to the future.

I am pleased to record a host of changes within IPRA for the better. We launched the year with a fresh new logo and that logo has achieved recognition rapidly around the globe.

We launched the year with a new Five Year Plan and much has been achieved. More below.

I took Ethics in PR as my theme for the year and stayed true to that theme with the launch of a new code of conduct, the Code of Brussels, presented it to the Vice-President of the European Commission and talked about it the world over.

IPRA events 2007 included:

-Belgium – the launch of my presidency and that Code of Brussels.

-USA – the launch of the Code of Brussels to the Americas at the University of Miami.

-UK, Scotland – an intriguing academic seminar on ethics, PR and religious tourism at the University of Sterling.

-Indonesia – a successful high-level IPRA regional conference in Bali.

-UAE – my participation at an IPRA supported event, the PR Congress in Dubai.

-UK, London – our third IPRA Summit with an outstanding set of speakers thanks to organiser par excellence Jennifer Hardie, coincident with the annual Golden World Awards ceremony.

We fulfilled our commitment to actively support certain conferences which agreed to basic standards and we received a small benefit for the use of the IPRA name and logo in Dubai, Iran and the Ukraine. Others asked, but did not follow-through with our offer.

What IPRA Did*

We planned to do a lot in that Five Year Plan – and now that I come to write it up, I suspect we did!

On finances – we fulfilled our commitment to unify all fees from 2008 onwards, thus ensuring all IPRA members are equal to their peers and that IPRA is truly an association for the senior profession. We simplified payments which can be made online for 2008. Meanwhile, we started as we said, to reduce the association’s reliance on membership fees with income from conferences and sponsorships. And we will pursue this vigorously next year. Moreover, Nigel Chism, our esteemed volunteer Treasurer tells me we will once again be in surplus for 2007 – our 10th year in a row.

On memberships – the Board continued to offer introductory free memberships for a few months and are pleased to report a 50% conversion rate from these as paid-up members. Membership categories were rationalised to remove student, senior and general. In effect there is now one category, that of Member reflecting that IPRA is for senior practitioners. Emeritus, Associate (retirees) and Fellow remain. This will assist with web-based sign-up and payment.

In addition the designation Fellow will now be uniquely via service on the Board while nominations for recognition fall exclusively to the new College of Members Emeritus. The College has expanded to 20 and started to produce some thoughtful output.

On intellectual leadership – we continued with the online version of FrontLine and, thanks to Board member Johanna McDowell, published a new Gold Paper on Ethics in PR, which is available free as a download or at a nominal price in print (both via the web site). And we have established an Intellectual Advisory Group to assist with implementing new ideas for 2008, of which there was no shortage at the recent London Council meeting.

On communication – we launched a new web site, continued to improve it and produced a printed directory of members, while the e-group flourished and raised both issues and, from time to time, temperatures! Improvements to the e-group were discussed by Board and Council in London recently and will be implemented early 2008.

On PR for IPRA itself – thanks to Board member Maria Gergova, we started a global media database and centralised our distribution in 2007. Looking forward to 2008 we will customise and localise these with the support of agency IPRA members.

On education – the paid-for student membership category was removed in favour of offering focused services to students free of charge such as a web-site job section including internships (stages), a recommendation to the GWA committee to consider a student related award for 2008 and we authorised work to start on developing an IPRA Diploma for third-party trainers.

The Golden World Awards was the best ever in terms of entries – over 400. A new survey was conducted under the Media Transparency Campaign the results of which will appear in 2008. And on a darker note we also fulfilled our commitment to police use of the IPRA name and logo and we suspended one member for misuse.

I was delighted to give the IPRA President’s Award for “outstanding contributions to better world understanding” to The Economist Newspaper. The award was accepted by editor John Michelthwaite at the IPRA Summit. It seemed to me that better world understanding is exactly what The Economist has been doing since 1843 although I can only vouch for the last 30 years.

What IPRA Did Next*

Overall, it has been a year of consolidation and achievement and one that builds a firm foundation for what promises to be a terrific year under Bob Grupp’s presidency as we work towards an outstanding World Congress in Beijing from the 13-15 November 2008.

To the rest of my volunteer board, many thanks for your great support throughout the year. All this was of course made possible by our tireless secretariat. My personal thanks to Jim, Clare and Narinder for their professionalism and coolness, even when the enquiries they sometimes received presented, shall I say, “challenges!” For the most part, in the true spirit of IPRA, international crises were averted.

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The Author

Philip Sheppard

Philip Sheppard is IPRA President for 2007.

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