As a member of the APPC Management Committee, I strongly support effective regulation. But my passion, like most people running agencies, is doing what is best for our business, and for our clients, whilst making sure public affairs gets the recognition it deserves within the broader communications mix.
So, for many, the debate around the merger has felt like a distraction from the day job. But pragmatically, I support the merger because in the long term, I think it makes sense for our businesses, our clients and our sector.
The APPC relies heavily on the goodwill and voluntary support of agency leaders who make up the Management Committee. The PRCA is equipped with more staff and more resources and a merger will reduce the pressure on all of our businesses. Moreover, agencies are subject to a proliferation of codes and reporting. This is time consuming and confusing – not just for us but for those buying our services.
Our clients want a guarantee that their public affairs consultants will adhere to the highest possible standards, and that they won’t end up on the front pages for the wrong reasons. Merging the two organisations will bring over 1800 practitioners under the APPC’s ‘gold standard’ Code of Conduct. This can only be a good thing.
Given the nature of our work, maintaining and improving perceptions of the sector is crucial. As a member since 1998, Connect has been a cheerleader for the APPC over the last 20 years and the organisation has played an instrumental role in driving up the status and professional standing of public affairs in the UK. But we can’t stand still, and the complexities of lobbying regulation across the UK means we need to speak with one voice via an industry body that is equipped and adequately resourced for the future.
There are clearly differences in opinion around future structures of regulation for our industry. But in my view, what matters is that regulation drives up standards, brings more practitioners into line and improves perceptions. It seems to me that merger with the PRCA will achieve all three, providing the best solution for our businesses, our clients and our industry.
Laura Blake, Partner, Connect Communications