Earlier this year, I joined the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA). For many years, this had been irrelevant to me – I worked mainly in-house and only when it sniffed a financial opportunity did it eventually (in about 2009, I think) open its doors to corporate communications teams. When I went freelance for the second time, I looked at the bodies that might help me and, to be honest, the PRCA barely figured – it still seemed focused on the larger PR consultancies, not on niche specialists like me.
Still, and particularly as I began to look at industry alliances to support my CIPR CAPSIG endeavours in construction and property, I eventually joined the PRCA. Sadly, it has been a disappointing experience. I met some nice people at a generic new members networking event, but what I really wanted was to build bridges with PRCA members active in construction and property. Three emails: no responses. I registered my industry sector consultancy expertise on the PRCA website, but I got no enquiries. Not one.
Today, I received a Christmas email message from PRCA CEO Francis Ingham, talking up the PRCA’s alleged achievements for 2014, including a paragraph:
2014 also saw us announce a significant strategic alliance with PRWeek, which will see the two industry leaders provide a raft of benefits to the PR industry including subscription offers, events and further insights….
I emailed Francis:
Dear FrancisIn my opinion, your Christmas email has an unnecessarily arrogant and insulting tone to people like myself who are long-time CIPR members as well as members of the PRCA. To proclaim yourselves and PRWeek as “the two industry leaders” is disrespectful to the UK PR industry’s elder PR organisation and its 10,000-plus members.I joined the PRCA this year hoping to learn more about the organisation and its support for freelances, and perhaps to build some bridges between the CIPR’s and PRCA’s sectoral groups concerned with construction and property (the lack of response suggests no desire for collaboration, apathy, or broken communications – hardly a great advertisement!).I am disappointed that you felt this was an inappropriate message to send at this season of peace and good will to all. I will not be renewing my PRCA membership.
No debate about the issues at all. As a PRCA member, I expected better from the CEO. Plainly, my expectations were wrong. C’est la vie.
For example, his claim that the PRCA has 12,000 members surely depends on a generous interpretation of the word “members”.
- When I looked today at the PRCA’s website, it listed around 330 consultancy members and 112 in-house members (all organisations), plus some 670 freelance members. No lists or figures were provided for individual or student members (individual membership has been available since October 2011).
- The PRCA’s own membership brochure says it has over 300 consultancy members who “[t]ogether, … employ over 5,000 people…”.
I am struggling to reconcile these figures with Francis’s “12,000 members”. Perhaps someone can enlighten me?