I was both honoured and humbled to be elected President of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management at the AGM in São Paulo, Brazil in April.
Having started my term on 1 July, I wanted to take this early opportunity to connect with and update our most important stakeholders – you, the 65 professional member organisations. The lifeblood of Global Alliance, you are our bridge to the almost 300,000 practitioners and academics we represent in more than 120 countries.
During my two years on the Global Alliance board, I have met many of you in person. Over the next two years as President, I plan to engage with you as often as possible to hear your frontline perspectives on how we can work together to better serve the best profession in the world to work in – though perhaps I’m a little biased! Listening to you has helped shape the work programme that we have adopted and which I summarise on the following pages.
Whether in global business and finance; politics and diplomacy; science and engineering; arts and entertainment; technology and innovation or medicine and healthcare, public relations and communications professionals can be found working to inform and inspire their publics.
Together, we protect and enhance the reputations of organisations generating huge employment opportunities and many billions of dollars’ worth of economic activity every day. This is a contribution we should not be shy about highlighting.
Today, Global Alliance is a global, diverse and multicultural organisation representing professionals across religions, cultures, societies and races. Recent changes to update our by-laws mean we are now more inclusive than ever before, working together worldwide.
As President, I believe Global Alliance must continue to evolve to be more relevant and progressive. We need to improve our structures, offerings and business model. With the full support of the new board, we have already started to make changes and there is much more to come. As a member organisation, accountability, transparency and sound corporate governance are vitally important to us.
I encourage you to please reach out if there are ways you feel we can further improve our offering to you and those who you in turn represent. To allow us tap into wider experience, we also intend to re-establish an advisory board and we will continuously critically review how our board and Alliance are working for you. Please help by joining that conversation.
We are very aware of the need to better serve our members and know we cannot be complacent about your continued support. Given this, we are committed to improving our member benefits and services to you, including advocacy, education and training programmes and skills and knowledge sharing.
We are also committed to enhancing our own communication tools and have entered a digital partnership with the London School of Public Relations (LSPR) in Jakarta, Indonesia.
As our membership has grown and diversified, so too has the importance of ensuring we operate on a more sound commercial footing so that we can continue to reinvest.
As part of strengthening our member services, we have established a full-time professional office co-located with our colleagues at APCE in Lisbon, Portugal. This provides a permanent ‘home’ from which to operate.
Valuable research continues apace as the Global Communications Model is further developed with leadership from my board colleague Ángel Alloza, Corporate Excellence, Spain.
As a board, we have restructured the leadership of Global Alliance to align with our ambitious work programme focused on priority areas for our profession. The following key Director appointments have been made –
|Education||Dr Marcia DiStaso, University of Florida, USA|
|Ethics & Standards||Sarah Hanel, Canadian Public Relations Society|
Paula Portugal Mendes, Portuguese Association of
|Communications & Digital||Fiona Cassidy, Public Relations Institute of New Zealand|
José Manuel Velasco, Dircom (Association of
Communication Directors), Spain
|Finance & Funding||Joe Truncale, Public Relations Society of America, USA|
|New Projects||Alastair McCapra, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, UK|
These Global Alliance board members are voluntarily taking on specific areas of additional
responsibility – I thank them for stepping up and wish them well with their endeavours.
With your support, Global Alliance can play a stronger role in representing our profession and promoting ethical standards and professional development worldwide. We are fully committed to the Global Principles of Ethical Practice in Public Relations & Communication Management. Adopted worldwide by your members, our next objective is to see these principles endorsed and formally recognised by major global organisations so the highest ethical standards become our profession’s baseline.
We are similarly committed to further rollout of the Global Capabilities Framework developed in partnership with University of Huddersfield, UK. I know that many of you as Global Alliance member organisations make use of this framework and the accompanying software and network support provided as a benefit of your 2019 membership.
A practical step we have taken towards getting closer to our membership so that we hear you clearly and bring forward fresh thinking is the establishment of six Regional Councils with the following chairs –
|Africa||Jane Gitau, African Public Relations Association, Kenya|
|Asia-Pacific||Prita Kemal Gani, Asean Public Relations Network, Indonesia|
José Manuel Velasco, Dircom (Association of Communication Directors),
|India-Middle East||Amith Prabhu, The Promise Foundation, India|
Hamilton dos Santos, Aberje (Brazilian Association for Business
|North America||Sarah Hanel, Canadian Public Relations Society|
Along with the other board members – Candy Hernandez, LSPR; Dr Amybel Sánchez de Walther, University of San Martin de Porres (Peru) and Dr Rotimi Oladele, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations – as well as Mateus Furlanetto, Chief Administrative Officer, I have never seen such enthusiasm, passion and ambition for our profession. This certainly is a ‘can do’ board – part of my job is channelling that energy!
One of the most exciting aspects about Global Alliance today is that we are increasingly truly global, reflecting an ever more diverse profession worldwide. Indeed, four new members this month are from professional bodies in Ghana, Indonesia, Puerto Rico and Rwanda. As a director of PR companies in Kenya and Nigeria as well as my native Ireland, I have a particular affinity with our colleagues in Africa and the exciting work they do.
Our increasing global reach is also reflected in the Alliance calendar for the coming months when we will participate in programmes in Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Uganda, UK and USA.
We have set a stretching target for Global Alliance to have 100 members by the end of 2020. This requires a 55% increase – while ambitious, I believe this is achievable with your and the board’s support. While our membership number is one important metric, the real measure for us is our member satisfaction and retention rate reflecting how we deliver for you. So, please partner with us on this exciting journey. We are stronger together.
While we are in the business of influencing and shaping perceptions, our profession sometimes suffers from an image problem. This is something I am keen to see addressed in a sustained way in line with Global Alliance’s mission which commits us to being the global voice for public relations in the public interest.
Our best defence against a poor image is consistently ethical behaviour and high professional standards. This starts with individual professionals and the decisions made every day. However, at a global level, there is also an onus on leaders to set the direction and champion doing the right thing every time.
This is particularly important in our era of low trust as people the world over grapple with oceans of information spreading at a rate unimaginable even as recently as 2000 when Global Alliance was established.
Collectively, those of us fortunate to work in public relations and communications can make a huge positive contribution to restoring public trust in verified and reliable sources of news and information.
The privilege – and that’s what it is – of working in our profession brings with it responsibilities and I am sure each of you will share my commitment to further improving both the reality and image of professional life for current and future leaders.
Together, we can make a great profession even stronger and ensure we continue to attract and retain the brightest and best people.
Finally, I would encourage you to ‘Save the Date’ for next year’s World Public Relations Forum from 12-15 October 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Now is the time to think global, go global and be global with your Global Alliance.
President, Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management;
Hon. Life Fellow & Global Ambassador, African Public Relations Association;
Hon. Life Fellow & Global Ambassador, Public Relations Society of Kenya;
Hon. Life Fellow, Aberje, Brazil and;
Life Fellow & Former President, Public Relations Institute of Ireland.