I think we have potentially a lot to learn from the experience of other membership bodies, as well as a lot to offer, so to help jump-start that debate, here is the first in an occasional series of interviews with long-standing CIPR members who have leading jobs in other such associations.
First up, a few questions to Rob Yeldham.
Q. Tell me please a bit about you, your career, and your membership in CIPR, as well as the membership body you now work in, and your role there?
A. I am a chartered PR and have worked in different areas of PR (public affairs, campaigns, press relations and strat Comms) since 1989. I work as Director of Strategy, Policy & Engagement for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
Q. What would you say are the most obvious similarities between CIPR and your body, and what are the biggest differences?
A. Both the CSP and CIPR as Chartered bodies offering charter status to qualified members. Both are voluntary to join. Unlike the CIPR the CSP is also a trade union and we don’t have any competitor bodies speaking for the profession. We have a much higher density of membership than the CIPR. The CSP with 58,000 members is also larger.
Q. What practical steps does your membership body take to handle the challenges of serving members based all over the country?
A. The CSP is embarking on a “localism” programme to make members feel we are alongside them wherever they live, work or learn. I am the director leading this. Key elements include supporting regional and local groups and refocusing our staffing to provide regional virtual teams to work with active members locally.
Q. What’s your experience of the CIPR’s membership offer in comparison to what your organisation has for its members?
A. The two organisations are quite different. Apart from being a union as well as a professional body, the CSP also offers professional liability insurance as part of the basic membership package. We do a lot more to be the voice of the profession with policy and decision makers, but as a much bigger organisation we are better resourced to do that. Where CIPR scores in comparison to CSP is the accreditation of third party CPD providers.
Q. Has your membership body had any successes in promoting diversity that you think might translate well to CIPR?
A. For the CSP the diversity of the profession and diversity of our members are directly related. But within the “pool” we can recruit from we’ve found targeted events and opportunities for overseas qualified physios useful in addressing their under representation. But we have a way to go.
Q. What’s your one favourite thing about CIPR membership, and what one thing (if any) would you most like to see change in CIPR?
A. CIPR provides me with a professional identity. For the first part of my career I couldn’t fit what I was doing into a label. Being a chartered PR practitioner now gives me a status with other qualified professionals. I would most like to see CIPR being a braver voice for the profession challenging those who see it as an overhead or nice to have, not a core strategic function.
Q. Can you pass one please one piece of wisdom or learning from your career to people starting off in PR?
A. Perfection is the enemy of good – don’t angst about getting everything 100% theoretically correct.