25 April 2007

Party girl, party boy and serial non-joiners...

...which one are you?

We're all of them...and proud of it.

But who came up with these odd little descriptions for various members of the PR industry? Only Colin Farrington, Director General of the CIPR. He did it in a speech he gave a few days ago at a PR conference in Vilnius, Lithuania (because, my friends, foreigners can join the CIPR...oh yes, their money's as good as yours). You can read the full speech here and it's worth it...for reasons that I'll come onto.

Farrington's irritated. I know the feeling. He's particularly cross about what he calls the "serial non-joiners" - the people who simply refuse to sign up to his little organisation and fail to add hundreds of pounds a year to his coffers. Well, you can understand it can't you? Trips to Vilnius don't pay for themselves. This is actually what he said:

"I have to confess such people irritate me. Some are just mavericks. Others however are in a position of influence and are role models for the young. They should know better. They should recognise the key role professional societies have in developing our profession and hence their business."

Naughty non-joiners.

He didn't stop there though...there are more people that clearly get his goat:

"At the other end of the spectrum are those who are basically publicists or party girls and boys who work in press release factories who do describe themselves as ‘PR people’ but with whom we would want no relationship – other than to educate them to know better."

Oh I see...the CIPR doesn't want anything to do with you...though if you'd like to sign-up to one of its pricey education workshops or seminars, it'll gladly take your money. He then attempts to close the sale by using an analogy about, well, closing a sale:

"...time is running out on those who believe they can construct a career in public relations without formal qualifications and training. To use the auctioneer’s language before he brings the gavel down one last time: ‘take note; due warning; last chance’. Get qualifications, get CIPR membership – or within 10 to 15 years you will struggle to hold down a good PR job, still less a PR career."

So get your hand in your pockets or you'll never work in this industry again (or ever...).

Farrington's whole speech is a great example of the self-serving nature of the CIPR and, let's face it, most business organisations. Of course, the party line is that the more members the CIPR has, the more credible it becomes and therefore the more credible the PR industry becomes...it's the same with the CIPR diplomas, workshops and seminars. We've all got our views on whether the CIPR does move the industry forward...you know ours; I'm happy to accept that people have a different opinion.

You can also have a read of the CIPR's annual accounts on its website. The 2006 accounts were due on the 11th April but haven't appeared as yet so the 2005 ones are the latest you can look at. They're worth a look...I particularly like the stuff from page 14-16, basically showing where the CIPR's income comes from and where the money gets spent. You can clearly see the most profitable activities for the CIPR. For instance, the cost of its awards in 2005 was a touch more than £92,000, but the income the awards generated was £245,000. Makes tickets for the dinner seem a shade pricey, doesn't it..? Other activities have similarly impressive margins.

Standout comparison for me, though, was income from membership subscriptions in comparison to the CIPR's salary costs. They're almost identical...almost. In 2005, the CIPR generated £1,008,722 from membership subscriptions. Its own wages, salaries and national insurance contributions cost it £60,000 more than that, at £1,066,581. Nice to know where your money's going though, isn't it….


tim hoang said...

I've been a consultant for only a a couple of months now and do not see the benefits of joining the CIPR, i'd rather the hundred quid or for the membership spent on a couple of text books which at least would make me look like i knew what i was talking about. You might take piss but the only good thing about the membership is free PR Week - it's the only thing that that keeps me informed of the PR industry (any news on PR Business' second coming?)

Andrew Smith said...

I see they managed to turn a £301K net surplus into a £148K net deficit in just one year - in spite of their margins - impressive.

Anonymous said...

I am not a member or the CIPR. Many others in my agency are, hence the small rainforest of PR Weeks that arrive each week, only to be recycled.

I also didn't do a PR degree because I am perhaps a little old school (in my day we were told to do "proper degrees"... not my words).

Does this mean my career is nearing its end? Oh deary me.

Do my years of experience count for nothing? Well damn.

figgis said...

Nice - that margin on the awards might explain why they cost 3 times as much as PR Week to enter, but are about a 1/4 as prestigious.