Channel 4 News covered the story in considerable depth, referencing Bell Pottinger’s expulsion from the PRCA and by implication, I felt, highlighting the lack of the profession’s regulation. Indeed, despite the PRCA’s discipline, there was a suggestion that there was perhaps now a need for a new, harsher monitoring body.
I think more regulation would be no bad thing. Especially when you see how effective the ASA is in the advertising world.
In some ways, it is quite scary that PR is not currently really regulated. There is lots of talk about ethics and the importance of CPD, but where does the buck really stop? Any enthusiastic young graduate can claim to be a
‘Public Relations Professional’ – reference any batch of CVs.
There has been talk for some time about the CIPR and PRCA merging. Indeed, there are many overlaps. So maybe now is the time for that ‘collaboration’ to happen, whereby one professional body really does take the bull by the horns to bring real rigor to PR practice.
The Channel 4 News coverage of Bell Pottinger was a harsh reminder of the size of the problem and the size of the challenge in regulating 83,000* UK PR practitioners; but that does not mean that the issue should not be tackled. Especially when it is such an exciting time for the sector in terms of opportunities to take the lead on reputation management in an ever more transparent world.
Surely, this should be a key function of a respectable trade organisation. I am a member of both organisations and await with interest to see who really takes the initiative.
*PRCA 2016 Census