Top lobbyists get behind APPC-PRCA merger plan as debate rages on
The pro-merger wing of the APPC has signed up public affairs chiefs including Edelman's Will Walden.
A host of senior lobbyists from top agencies have thrown their weight behind the controversial proposed merger between the PRCA and APPC.
The pro-merger wing of the APPC has flexed its muscles by securing the signatures of 30 senior agency figures to a new letter supporting the merger.
Between them, the 30 invidividuals represent 24 APPC memeber organisations. Significantly, they include the top public affairs practitioners at heavyweight lobbying consultancies such as Portland, Edelman and MHP Communications, as well as the UK CEO of Weber Shandwick.
Connect Communications boss and former Labour MP Andy Sawford is also signed up, along with Connect director Laura Blake who is understood to have played a key role in organising the letter.
The letter restates seven “key benefits” of the merger. It goes on to insist that “this is a merger, not a takeover” and that “this will raise standards, not lower them”. In a direct response to concerns expressed by former APPC chair Robbie MacDuff, it also states: “The current requirement that all APPC members embed our Code into the contracts of their employees will not be dropped -in fact, it will be extended.”
The push comes after PAN revealed last week that a campaign against the proposed merger had got off the ground with 20 senior lobbyists on board.
Before the circulation of the pro-merger letter today, the planned link-up had already been publicly supported by senior lobbyists such as Cicero Consulting boss Iain Anderson and Newington chief executive Mark Glover – both former APPC chairs.
Now the pro-merger wing is also able to boast big agency names such as Edelman public affairs MD Will Walden, Portland public affairs chief Sam Ingleby and MHP joint public affairs heads James Gurling and Jamie Lyons.
A number of big-hitting agency bosses have also signed up to the letter. They include Weber Shandwick CEO Rachael Friend, MHP CEO Alex Bigg and Maitland CEO Neil Bennet.
The letter concludes: “This is a once in a decade opportunity for our industry. By uniting our two organisations, we will do public affairs a great service -on a par with the moment when the industry embraced self-regulation and high ethical standards, and established the APPC twenty-five years ago. The time has come to make a similar leap forward.”
Responing for those opposed to the merger, APPC management committee member Darren Caplan said: “We welcome a healthy debate on this key issue. We will continue to promote the case that an Independent APPC is the best route forward. Its revenues are secure, its membership becoming every younger and more diverse; and it promotes and protects the ‘gold standard’ Code of Conduct, lobbying register, training, and complaints procedure."
Who has signed the letter?
Iain Anderson, Executive Chairman, Cicero; former APPC Chair
Neil Bennett, Chief Executive, Maitland
Alex Bigg, CEO, MHP
Laura Blake, Partner, Connect Communications
Paul Bristow, Managing Director, PB Consulting
Jonathan Chandler, CEO, Quiller Consultants
Dominic Church, Managing Director, WA
Jim Donaldson, CEO, UK and Middle East, FleishmanHillard-Fishburn
Peter Duncan, Message Matters; APPC Scotland Chairman
Wyn Evans, Managing Director, Forty Shillings
Elaine Fee, Account Director, Morrison Media
Rachel Friend, UK CEO, Weber Shandwick
Simon Gentry, Partner, Newgate
Mark Glover, Chief Executive, Newington; former APPC Chair
James Gurling OBE, Joint Head of Public Affairs, MHP
John Higginson, Managing Director, Higginson Strategy
Sam Ingleby, Senior Partner and Head of Corporate, Portland Communications
Ralph Jackson, Director, Lansons
Tony Langham, CEO and Co-founder, Lansons
Jamie Lyons, Managing Director, Joint Head of Public Affairs, MHP
George McGregor, Managing Partner, Interel UK; APPC Vice-Chair
Richard Millar, CEO, UK and Global Chair, H+K Strategies
Andy Sawford, Managing Partner, Connect Communications
Tim Snowball, Director and Partner, Head of Public Affairs, FleishmanHillard-Fishburn
Warwick Smith, Managing Partner, Instinctif; former APPC Chair
Carl Thomson, Director, Interel; former APPC Vice-Chair
Will Walden, Managing Director, Public Affairs, Edelman
Chris Whitehouse, Chairman, Whitehouse Consultancy
Tom Wilkins, Director, Public Affairs, Westbourne
Nick Williams, Managing Director of Public Affairs and Issue Management, BCW