What does the CIPR and NUJ have in common?

So I have a confession. I let my CIPR membership lapse last month. I may still renew it, but to be perfectly honest I’m not sure what *real* benefits I get out of the organisaiton anymore.

The particular benefits they sold me on during the post-lapse sales call included: meeting other PR professionals at breakfast briefings and networking events and the all inclusive PR Week subscription.

But I find I do my best networking online, reading and commenting on blogs. And now by following and engaging others via Twitter (and other social media tools).

On top of that I try to get along to events like Twestival; alternative ‘networking’ events organised by non-traditional players in non-traditional spaces. Likewise I find I get all the latest news, gossip and cutting-edge thinking from blogs and Twitter too, rather than PR Week.

In short I just don’t think I need to be a member of the CIPR anymore.

Of course, this also means I don’t get to claim I’m an accredited PR practitioner or use the professional suffix MCIPR. Like I say, I may still renew but I’m struggling to see the benefits so would welcome others’ opinions.

As I mull over these thoughts, it was also good to see another blogger's encounter with his professional organisation, the NUJ.

Adam Tinworth's blog post starts innocently enough but soon degenerates/ascends into a car crash of a comment thread. With friends like these…. as they say!

Technorati tags: CIPR, NUJ, membership organisations


  1. Simon,
    how often does a client ask for CIPR accreditation or indeed new employees – I have been asked once.
    Of course it is up to you to make the most of any investment in membership you make, but you are not alone in being disappointed

  2. Simon
    I’m not here to defend the CIPR, although as a member for 18 years I’m sad if you feel the organisation has nothing to offer you as a PR professional. Especially as we first met at the institute’s northern conference three years ago.
    In many ways, I share your concerns about the CIPR. I challenged its decision a few years ago to move to a regency building in London’s St James’s Square as sending absolutely the wrong signal: a London club rather than a 21st century membership organisation. You and Stuart Bruce amongst others have critisised its policy on social media.
    But the CIPR, for its faults, is still the best voice for the PR profession. And in a week when all too many commentators are once again elevating Max Clifford as the country’s top PR person (hell, no!) we need a voice. Why don’t we get together to lobby for the kind of CIPR we want?

  3. The other thought is that you’re already strongly affiliated through your employer. A professional body like the CIPR is much more meaningful for sole traders and also for in-house practitioners who may not work alongside many other PR practitioners/professionals.

  4. I do wish the CIPR didn’t have to sell itself on material benefits. I never joined for cheap car insurance, discounts on mobile phones or a free copy of PR Week. I hoped that having the letters after my name would tell the people around me that I was a serious professional (have realised that most of them still think I’m a fool anyway!) and the hope that a professional association would work to raise standards in the profession.
    A couple of low points for me recently have been the ridiculous award last year to Boris Johnson and the strange visit by the President to China (a country not noted for its position in the vanguard of the free flow of information).
    But I think standards are gradually improving. Slowly, through the qualifications and education there is a build-up of critically-minded professionals.
    I think the CIPR needs people in membership who ask difficult questions about the line taken by the association and challenge some of more old school types who seem to pop up as spokespeople for the profession. Right now, I think we need you more than you think.
    Liam FitzPatrick

  5. Thanks all for your comments. It seems that there is a small consensus that the CIPR would benefit from having some greater scrutiny. I’ll mull this one over and post something in a few days.
    More specifically…
    @Rob Artisan. I take your point. And the investment isn’t insignificant either
    @Rob Skinner – I do agree with you that the regional activities are hugely beneficial. But again, having sat on a regional committee I know how much great stuff happens *despite* HQ rather than because of it.
    @Richard Bailey – Good point. And WS are members of the PRCA and have a strong global network of info/knowledge sharing
    @Liam – Thanks for your kind words. Totally agree on the utterly bizarre grandstanding with e.g. Boris and also agree there’;s a role for an OpenCIPR as per OpenRSA. What do you think?

  6. The value of CIPR membership

    Simon Collister has an interesting post on why he hasn’t yet renewed his Chartered Institute of Public Relations membership. I had a very similar discussion with Chris Norton the other day who was asking exactly the same question. I find…

  7. To some extent I agree with your comments.
    I too receive most of my PR News from twitter – included by following PR week (A free subscription to PR week if you will).
    I do pay membership and enjoy the status that it sounds like it brings although in practice it hasn’t always been the case.
    With experience I have found the regional commitees more responsive than the HQ.
    One disappointing story was when I visited the HQ on a course as a University course rep. One of the employees there running the course explained to me that “none of the employees here work in PR – afterall any one can do that kind of work.” Comments like that have hardly filled me with hope.
    There have been suggestions to bring in regulated guidelines which although PR is meant to encourage the freedom of speech perhaps it may give our speech more credibility.

  8. Hi Simon,
    Good post and good debate. I accept that every profession needs a governing body – the Law Society, Chartered Institute of Accountants etc… My problem is I don’t think public relations consultants are a *profession* bound by legal statutes and regulations.
    We’re a bit like journalists – and just look at how effective the NUJ has been in promoting best practice or, indeed,the PCC.
    When I was a journo I always thought of myself as a tradesman – bloody hell back in the day we were actually indentured like a brickies’ or plumbers’ apprentice.
    I learned a craft and deployed it to the best of my abilities.
    I mean no ill-will to the CIPR – they offer great training – but what are they doing to promote public relations in the wider field? And I use the term *public relations* with reverence given the earlier comments about Max Clifford as if he was some kind of pariah.
    Max does PR. Most of us do *public relations*. He’s a personal reputation machine. We’re not – we’re corporate reputation management machines, which means we can’t do a lot of the things Max does as we are dealing with sophisticated marketing managers and not 13-year-old Dads.
    Should you stay with CIPR? I don’t know. I was an NUJ member for many years – what did it get me? A card with my picture on it. Did it open doors for me? No.
    But then the NUJ was all about protecting my rights as an employee – http://greengathering.blogspot.com/2009/02/tough-times-for-regional-journalism.html – can the same be said for CIPR?

  9. I have also let my CIPR membership lapse this year – I feel that it has little to offer me beyond that free copy of PR Week that appears on my desk every Thursday.
    Being relatively low down on the PR food chain, I thought that the CIPR’s Continuous Professional Development scheme may have offered me a great basis for developing my skills, providing me with opportunities that I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. However this was not the case – I had very little contact from the organisation for months, until just before my membership lapsed when I was spammed.
    I now turn to my employer for any development support I need and have no desire at all to pay the hefty fee associated with CIPR membership.

  10. Hi Simon, I’m considering not rejoining too. The best part about the membership is the magazine which I enjoy reading. I called them once in the last year to ask their advice on an issue which was important to me and was very disappointed with their response.

Speak Your Mind