13 things I've learned from standing in the #CIPRelection

Here’s what I’ve learnt over the last few weeks of the #CIPRelection. Thank you to everyone who helped out. 

Standing for a public office should never be taken lightly. During the last 17 years of volunteering with the CIPR, members have variously asked me to consider running for CIPR President-Elect. Until now, it just wasn't the right time.

I'm posting this now without knowing the election result - voting closes in 48 hours at 5pm on Friday - to share my experience in the hope it will help others considering whether to stand in future.

I also wanted to thank the many people who have helped me along the way.

The CIPR is an important organisation with the clear purpose of promoting public relations to members, the broader profession, and the public.

Whatever the outcome I'll always be glad I stepped forward as one of its potential leaders. Not least I've met some incredible people and advanced my professional development along the way. 

#1 Do your homework

I spent from January through to the summer listening to members and non-members to understand how they felt about the CIPR. It informed every area of my plan and put them at the core of all activity.

Thank you to everyone who contributed and helped develop my thinking.

#2 Choose your nominees carefully

I count myself lucky to have secured the support of some of the people I respect most in public relations and public affairs. They are highly experienced and not only provided endorsement, wisdom, knowledge and networks, but also helped me find courage and conviction to carry on when campaigning was tough.

Thank you Anne Gregory, Dr Jon White, Alison Clarke, Stephen Waddington, Iain Anderson, Mary Whenman, Farzana Baduel, Jen Stirton, Ella Minty and Andy Green. I'd also like to include Peter Walker and Colin Byrne in this list.

#3 Have a firm plan

We all have views about the CIPR and how we can support it. Don't just have great ideas. Create a tangible plan with a strategy, outcomes, and KPIs so people know you're serious, prepared for hard work and ready to be measured against it. Use AMECs work as your signpost. Thank you AMEC.

#4 Stand tall through the highs and lows

When I decided to stand I had it in writing that there would be no Board endorsements. I understand the issue was discussed at Council. This changed a week into the campaign, prompting my response here.

Naively I was also totally unprepared for the gossip around the election. I got some excellent advice from battle worn public affairs practitioners: harden off and ignore the bubble of social media.

Thank you to all those who rang me to clarify things or sent me copies of messages they'd received. This allowed me to clarify any misconceptions openly and transparently on my blog.

#5 Think people and consequences

At the heart of an election in a membership organisation are a group of individuals who care enough to stand because they believe in the profession. They all have a worthy contribution to make and will already have a proven track record of having done so. Be mindful of this and think also about working relationships after the election is over; what will the consequences of your actions be?

#6 Focus

It is very easy to get drawn into circles of activity where there is a lot of noise. Focus on the strengths of your own campaign. Draw out any pledges you've made, create fresh content such as blogs and podcasts, and use topical news stories as examples as I did with gender pay reporting.

#7 Know the rules

There are many rules and regulations governing the election. Be sure of your campaign footing. It helps to build a relationship with the CIPR's Returning Officer who can clarify any questions and provide a final decision on any grey areas. I'm grateful to Martin Turner for his support over the last few weeks.

#8 Harness groups

One of the key things to keep front of mind is that it's down to the membership to choose who they want to lead the CIPR. It's not for the elected leaders to choose for them. As such, harness the groups and see if you can secure committee backing. I'm grateful to the CIPR Scotland and North East groups for publicly endorsing my bid and manifesto. Thank you.

#9 Speak out on issues that matter

One of my pledges is to speak out on behalf of the CIPR and wider industry and I put my money where my mouth is. In the last ten days alone I have secured coverage in PRWeek, PRcareers and PRmoment, on the Women in PR website and in a range of key industry blogs.

Thank you to PRWeek's Sam Burne James, PRcareer's Sarah Stimson, PRmoment's Daney Parker, Women in PR's Mary Whenman, and all those who featured me.

#10 Build advocacy

I have been very fortunate to receive some strong support from people who have gone the extra mile and produced their own content encouraging people to vote for me.

My thanks to Liz DaviesPaul Sutton, Andy Green, Gemma Griffiths and Stephen Waddington, in particular. 

#11 Take business cards

Here's a major school girl error. Take business cards with you everywhere. It makes networking a hell of a lot easier. 

#12 Take time out

The campaign trail is exhilarating and exhausting. What you're standing for matters. I've put passion and energy into everything I've done because I'd be proud to lead the CIPR. But keep perspective - what matters is you, your health and your family, partner and friends. Those are the things that allow you to step forward in this way.

#13 Say thank you

#FuturePRoof: Edition Two ends with a fantastic chapter on expressing gratitude by Dr Nicky Garsten, Dr Ed de Quincey and Professor Ian Bruce. I'm going to follow suit. Say thank you all the way through. It can never be said enough. I'll never forget the help and support that I've had throughout the election period.

So, finally, thanks to anyone who's been there, all those who have voted and special thanks to Emma Leech and Gary Taylor for being great President-Elect candidates.

Whoever wins, the CIPR will be in excellent hands.