Meet the CIPR President-Elect Candidates

fotorcreatedbwMembers will be receiving their #CIPRElection email voting form shortly and will be called to cast their vote to elect their representatives.

Emma Leech FCIPR, Found.Chart.PR, Gary Taylor FCIPR, Chart.PR and Sarah Hall FCIPR, Chart.PR are standing for election for CIPR President 2018. The last time the CIPR saw a three-way race for the President seat was in 2011 between Sue Wolstenholme, Rob Brown and Lionel Zetter when Sue was duly elected.

So for all of you that haven’t made up your mind yet but are worried about the future of the profession like me, I’ve asked all three presidential candidates three questions about their views of PR and the CIPR.

1. How would you pitch yourself in less than 100 words?

emmaEmma: I’m passionate, curious, strategic, and collaborative with a stellar track record of delivery and almost three decades of communications, PR, marketing and management experience.

I’m a natural leader and I build great teams and strong relationships. I don’t quit.  I’m resilient. I’ve experienced agency, local government, and in-house PR life across a whole range of areas. I love learning. I listen and I care.

I’m a Fellow of seven professional bodies, chartered in three. My absolute focus is on doing my very best for the CIPR, supporting professionalism and member aspirations, and growing an inclusive next generation of talent.

garyGary: I’m hard-working, creative, inspirational, outward-looking and forward thinking, and I pride myself on the quality of the projects I’ve helped deliver during my career. I also believe in giving back. If you believe in professional practice, a distinct identity for your professional body and support for members where you are – see me.


sarahSarah: I’m passionate about public relations, get things done, and have the best interests
of the CIPR and the profession at heart. What’s more, I’m an experienced board director with a track record of delivery, especially for the Institute. I’ve a strong plan rooted in listening to members and five practical pledges which I’ll set KPIs against and report on quarterly. All my volunteering over the years has been because the CIPR has helped me and I want to give back. It’s all summed up in that wonderful Ghandi quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

2. How do you intend to support the next generation of PR?


Gary: By making sure that graduates and new practitioners understand the value of ethical professional practice, and providing the support structures for them, especially during the early part of their career (such as training, networking, ethics hotline).



Sarah: This is straightforward based on my plan. I intend to:

1. Map the career journey for members and align the CIPR’s training and quals offer with the Global Alliance’s capabilities framework to make Chartered status the industry kitemark as per my blog post here.

2. Continue to grow the #FuturePRoof community, which provides free thought leadership and industry insights to help practitioners understand the context we are operating in and continue their CPD.

3. Widen the CIPR’s offer to appeal the greater breadth of our industry, which continues to grow and diversify as disciplines converge.

4. Work with other organisations like the Taylor Bennett Foundation to ensure the public relations is open to all, including those in lower social economic groups and Black and Ethnic Minority communities.

emmaEmma: I’d start by looking at the demographics and the data we have and identifying the gaps. More importantly, I’d ask the next generation directly and respond to their issues and ideas. I’d look at the barriers and be pragmatic (and swift) at coming up with some immediate actions that could help.

Do we have the right information, resources, engaging case studies, testimonials and stories? Are we using the right channels to creatively reach the brightest talent wherever it may be? More importantly, are we listening to their issues and proactively responding? What are the hurdles we face as an industry and, crucially, what barriers face individuals at the start of their careers who are looking to succeed in our sector.

I’ve been lucky enough to judge the Young Communicator of the Year for the Excellence Awards several times and the sheer talent out there blows me away. Let’s use their energy and ideas and let’s get a wide and enthusiastic mix of young voices from all parts of society into the conversation and support them in shaping and leading that agenda.

Individually, I already coach and mentor young professionals and I am happy to help anyone who needs help, advice, introductions or just a little bit of sign-posting. Often the problem is confidence – especially amongst women – and that’s something we should be tackling head on.

There’s a lot that can be done around mapping the journey, the touch-points, the interactions and the skills needed to be successful in PR and everyone finds their own way but what about creating a set of online and face-to-face tools – a careers toolkit – that is totally focused on helping the next generation achieve their aspirations? A head and heart mix of help, support, advice, best practice and case studies that will resonate, excite and build aspirations. Let’s get the right people telling their stories and let’s do it creatively and with real passion. Let’s use the tools that work – video, Snapchat, Twitterchats, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and peer to peer to name but a few.

Providing the time, support, mentoring and signposting the next generation need to take our industry forward isn’t an optional extra.

Part of my election statement talks about ‘old school values and new school thinking’. That means building on core values like integrity, respect, good manners and authenticity but combining them with new ways of doing things; embracing the convergence of disciplines and being creative, curious and innovative in how we do business.

From a personal perspective, I do all I can to help others along the way and I’m proud of the fact that one of my nominators was my first ever placement student. Other colleagues I’ve supported though coaching, mentoring, help with CVs, encouraging them to gain qualifications (and finding resources to support that where I could) and through giving advice, answering questions or simply just listening. I love seeing other people succeed and I love unlocking potential. Others did it for me and now it’s my turn to help the next generation.

3. What question would you pose to the other two candidates?



• How do you intend to be measured on your work as President-Elect and President?

•  What is your vision for the future of practice and how will you deliver on this?



Emma: I was asked this week how I would combine the role of President-Elect with my full-time job and also how I would guarantee members that my motivation wasn’t personal benefit. They’re good questions and fair ones for members to ask all those standing.

I’d also ask how their skillsets and experience equip them to deal with the issues raised in the #StateofPR report, particularly in relation to morphing from management to leadership and their experience of strategic leadership at scale.



Gary: It’s 2020. What does the Chartered Institute look like to its members after your three years are up?



Waiting for your answers now.. What is it going to be? Tweet, blog post or short video?

In addition to my questions, President-Elect Jason MacKenzie FCIPR, Found.Chart.PR has also provided a question for the candidates:

What aspects of the drive to professionalism that Sarah Pinch and Rob Brown have championed would you aim to build on as a priority?


Sarah: The drive to professionalism was started by Professor Anne Gregory who helped the IPR secure a Charter from the Privy Council in 2004 to become the CIPR.

Stephen Waddington’s tenure as CIPR President ten years later was rooted in a return to the organisation’s purpose, as set out in the Charter. Check out his blog post from October 2013 which states that “to continue its development towards a profession, public relations needs to shift away from a hands-on, learning on the job approach to more focussed knowledge acquisition and development.”

This is why the education and qualifications project that I’m advocating is so important.  It would be a key priority for me if elected.

emmaEmma: I’ve been around long enough to remember the amazing Anne Gregory and other colleagues steering us to Chartership. I saw Jay O’Connor, another amazing woman, become the first Chartered Practitioner. I was number twelve – slower than I wanted but I had a few personal challenges including a new job, losing my mum, and being diagnosed with cancer in the space of a few weeks so I had to push my assessment back.

In terms of immediate priorities, I absolutely champion the new Chartered Practitioner assessment and am joint lead assessor on that along with Paul Noble, one of those I was privileged to be nominated by and my assessor when I became Chartered myself in 2009.

Ensuring that our members are skilled, trained, current and qualified are essential parts of demonstrating our professional worth and value. The boardroom values boardroom skills. We have to be able to speak that language, earn our place as trusted advisors and be absolutely professional, expert and current in our work.

I would build on the excellent work of the Professional Development and Membership Committee to help ensure employers start embedding membership and Chartership in job descriptions. When we are valued as highly as peers who are Chartered we will have done our job as an Institute.

I would also work harder to get more people involved in CPD and to ensure that the resources and materials we make available are on the front foot and up-to-date. There has been lots of innovation in CPD recently and I’d want to keep that momentum going.


Gary: To get more Chart. PRs we need more Accredited Practitioners. That means increasing the take-up of CPD. And, more CPD means a more aware and better educated membership.



It’s a very tough choice between three passionate and very promising candidates, but tick tock!

You can find all statements here. Voting for CIPR members starts today and the ballots will remain open until Friday 23 September with the results announced on 28 September. And do not forget that you also need to vote for council!


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