Social media and CIPR

At last night’s CIPR graduation ceremony, I chatted with both 2007 President, Lionel Zetter and Director General, Colin Farrington. Needless to say, both conversations turned to new media.  It was nice to hear that Colin reads this blog, but apparently the recent membership survey conducted by CIPR showed few practitioners are reading blogs.  Rather than taking this as evidence that blogs aren’t influential or important to public relations practitioners, I find it worrying that this accessible element of social media isn’t yet part of members’ regular reading habits.  Is this through lack of time, poor understanding of new technology, fear or lack of interest?  

Picking up on this, Lionel said CIPR is likely to produce its social media guidelines in hard copy as well as online.  I am aware that many bloggers have commented on the proposed guidelines – and, as I submitted to Francis Ingham in my own twopenniesworth, I agree with the consensus that the existing CIPR code of conduct applies to the ethical principles involved in online social media.  I also commented that any advice for members must adapt to the speed and unpredictable nature of how online/social media is changing. Also, there is good pressure online for those who do not follow accepted or ethical practices, which CIPR needs to highlight to members.

What I would like to see CIPR produce is a living, online resource that provides guidance for those in PR embarking on social media activities.  This should include a wiki, blog and forums where debate can take place.  By engaging with those involved in PR online at present, CIPR could create a superb resource that would be of help to the newbie PRs in social media and draw on the expertise of those who are nearer the forefront of developments, including current best practice, and examples of what can go wrong.

Lionel also raised some interesting points looking at how Edelman had come unstuck with social media PR campaigns.  Notably, the fact that champions of openness and transparency in organisations need to not just be public evangelists, but ensure their ethos is part of the culture and reflected by all their colleagues – especially those working with clients who might pressure them otherwise.  I look forward to reading Lionel’s own post on last night and some other interesting engagements he has this week.

Good to see that social media is being discussed intelligently within CIPR – and I really hope more members grasp the potential of online/social media or this will be a wasted opportunity for the profession and potentially question its future relevance.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

4 thoughts on “Social media and CIPR”

  1. I wonder if the lack of interest in online social media might be because most people haven’t known anyone close to them that have become unstuck through the rapid-fire speed of blogs. I guess until they’ve experienced seemingly latent folks who can become online activists in seconds, they might rest on their laurels a bit.

    Is it also the case perhaps that until – if the day should ever dawn – that we become fully regulated people might just take the easy option and not bother to harness change?

    But, on a lighter note, they really don’t know what they are missing!

  2. Could be – as you indicate a crisis will certainly stimulate interest although not the best conditions in which to learn about blogging!! I feel there are time and fear issues also to overcome. If you don’t really know where to find things and how to make reading easy it can be daunting. Most people aren’t as familiar even with Internet searching as we might like to think. It’s Google and maybe Wiki even for most Undergrad students.

  3. Hi Heather,

    As an undergrad PR student, I regularly read your blog with great interest, particularly this post. Whilst to the outside world the CIPR has been seemingly slow to catch on to the social media epidemic, the lack of consistency across the industry is surely more of a pressing matter. Blunders like those at Edelman seem to have created insecurities about social media that they need not worry about. And the CIPR, an organisation which prides itself on being the eyes, ears and voice of the industry appears to be realising that it’s not as bad as it seems. PR practitioners need to embrace social media and become the pioneers of an industry online in order to prove its worth to the rest of the world. And it would seem the CIPR are beginning to realise that. Very refreshing to see that our studies of Online PR may prove to be much more important than we first thought.


  4. Thanks Louise – I was checking out some of the blogs on the wiki site you guys have with David Philips yesterday – and will add yours to my feeds. I love your personality coming through.

    I agree with you there are lots of pressing issues with PR getting to grips with the social media – and I am really encouraged that you are one of the online PR gang at Bournemouth. I’m determined to get some passion into the 1st years I am tutoring on the topic as the sooner they can get involved in the discussions, the better.

    It is important for CIPR to be leading as for many of the nervous practitioners, the Institute can help show this as an exciting direction for PR. There will be blunders with new media but I hope those starting to drive the profession such as you guys will be able to help your employers take advantage of what can be done with courage.

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