CIPR Northern Conference - the art and science of engagement

It's my absolute privilege to open the CIPR Northern Conference today, which has the theme of PR: The Art and Science of Engagement. Here's my opening address for those who can't make it. 

Hi everyone

It gives me huge pleasure to be here welcoming you to my native North East.  I know you’ll experience a very warm Geordie welcome.

I want to start with a heartfelt thank you to Anne-Marie and all the organisers, the CIPR North East, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and North West, for reinvigorating the Northern Conference. It’s always an excellent day and as you’ve heard it hasn’t been straight forward so please do put your hands together as an expression of thanks for their hard work.

And I want to thank you all too for being here today.

I know your attendance marks your commitment to professionalism and to supporting the CIPR’s drive to have public relations widely recognised as a strategic management function.

It’s an important moment in time for us and clear opportunity as Dr Jon White has written extensively about in the past. Changes in politics, society, media and technology are affecting how business and the wider industry operates.

CEOs remain predominately concerned with reputation.

More than ever PR practitioners are needed to help navigate uncertainty and – to quote Professor Anne Gregory – be the eyes, ears and conscience of the organisations we work for.

It’s a great opportunity if we step forward and take it.

The call to action is to make sure you have the skills to operate in that elevated advisory capacity we all strive for.

If you’ve not yet got it, please make CIPR Chartered status your goal, to demonstrate you have the leadership, ethical and strategic capabilities to command the respect of the C-suite.

Business, finance and management competencies are all critical if we want to speak truth to power.

We still have some way to go as an industry. This year’s CIPR State of the Profession survey appeared to show a skills gap at senior level in relation to business management in public relations.

The top ranked answer to challenges facing the industry was under-representation of public relations practitioners at board level.

Ultimately it’s up to us to make the change and demonstrate the strategic value of PR to organisations. It’s up to us to upskill accordingly and even when we are qualified, to continue our CPD in an ever-changing industry and educate management about PR’s leadership role.

We really do have an unparalled opportunity as brands find their place within society and look to maintain their legitimacy.

But enough from me. I stand between you and some absolutely brilliant speakers who I’ll know you’ll enjoy and learn a lot from.

I do have one final plug though and this is to the non-members among us.

From the 16th July, the CIPR is rolling out a membership taster campaign. Sign up with your name and email address and you’ll receive time limited access to a selection of 10 of our most popular member exclusive resources and benefits. It’s well worth a try and we’d love you to join us.

That’s it - thanks again for coming and enjoy your day.