George McGregor: The case for the APPC-PRCA merger

Written by George McGregor on 14 September 2018 in Opinion

A merger is the right decision at the right time and with the right partner.

An APPC-PRCA merger would create the strongest possible voice for our industry, one that unites around effective self-regulation and higher ethical standards. 
Merger would combine the best of the APPC with the best of the PRCA, creating an independent, autonomous, and effective body that can regulate public affairs and speak up for it, drawing on the legacy of the APPC’s good work.
1. Vote for more ethical public affairs. A new unified body would widen the number of companies adhering to the APPC’s code of conduct (which will form the basis of the new code). After merger there will be 1,800 public affairs practitioners, 3,000 clients, and 130 organisations captured by our combined code. There will be less of a hiding place for those trying to dodge transparency and breach ethical standards.  
2. Vote for a stronger voice. A unified body will make us stronger as we look to the future and help us address new challenges, not least from the possibility of a newly elected reforming Labour Government. 
3. Vote for a member led organisation. The Chair of the new Public Affairs Board – who will be elected by the members – will become the default voice of the industry, helping to avoid any conflicting messages.
4. Vote for a more professional body. Access to the PRCA’s 30+ team and £3.7m resources will give the new industry body considerably enhanced capacity. This in turn will allow us to deliver significant new activity in training and professional development as well as research into the future of the industry. This is just the sort of activity that the membership wants and that can be more readily delivered through merger.
5. Vote for a better deal for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The new body will have representation from the nations on the Board and is committed to having at least two events per year in each of the devolved areas. 
6. Vote for reduced cost. No member will pay more because of merger.
7. Vote for a reduced regulatory burden. By creating one merged register, we will reduce the burden in completing quarterly returns.
The merger has considerable support from across the APPC, from the largest companies through to smaller, dedicated public affairs agencies, as well as support from PRCA public affairs members who are clear: this is a merger of equals. 
The APPC has been a beacon of our industry for a quarter of a century. But the environment in which we operate is changing rapidly. We must change with it. A merger is the right decision at the right time and with the right partner, offering our members the strongest possible representation and compliance with an enhanced code and widened register. 
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About the author

George McGregor is a head of public affairs at Interel Consulting and APPC deputy chair.

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