News: CIPR opens voting to find ultimate public relations campaign that changed the world

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BEHIND every influential campaign and social movement lies a story of individuals who harnessed the power of public relations for the greater good. As part of a series of events to mark its 75th Anniversary, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has today launched an initiative to tell those stories. It is searching for the ultimate Campaign that Changed the World from the last 75 years.

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The Institute is asking the public to vote on what they see as the most influential campaign from a
shortlist determined by a panel of expert judges. Assigned a decade each from 1948 to the present day, they were tasked with selecting a campaign that has shaped and defined society. Further work was done by the Institute to research the planned public relations work for each campaign. Voting is open until the end of Friday 23 June. The winning campaign will be announced the week after. 

From the stirring speeches that fueled the civil rights movement, to the powerful imagery that shifted cultural perceptions on climate change and the strategic launch of products and services that captured the public imagination, the use of planned PR techniques has changed the world by shaping narratives, fostering dialogue, and driving societal transformation. 

The judging panel – chaired by CIPR board member professor emeritus Anne Gregory – brings together an international group of respected senior professionals whose expertise spans the public, private and NGO sectors, media and consultancy. Their chosen campaigns are: 

1948-59 Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott chosen by John Harrington, editor of PRWeek UK

1960-69 Civil Rights Movement in the United States chosen by Alex Aiken, executive director, Government Communication Service

1970-79 The first Earth Day chosen by Solitaire Townsend, chief solutionist and co-founder, Futerra

1980-89 AIDS activism: a medical breakthrough chosen by Daniel Tisch, chairman, Argyle PR

1990-99 Virgin Atlantic vs British Airways chosen by Mark Borkowski, founder, Borkowski PR agency

2000-09 iPhone Launch chosen by Prita Kemal Garni, founder and director, LSPR Communication and Business Institute

2010-19 Climate Change: The Paris Agreement chosen by Winnie D’Eath, senior communication adviser, WWF International

2020-23 Covid, vaccinating the world chosen by Chris Hopson, chief strategy officer, NHS England

To view the shortlist and vote, please visit this page.

Steven Shepperson-Smith (pictured), CIPR president, said, “The Institute of Public Relations was established in 1948 with the mission of promoting the ethical, competent and professional use of public relations to enhance society. We were awarded a Royal Charter in 2005 to recognize and elevate the importance of that work. As part of our 75th anniversary we want this initiative to showcase some of the many instances where public relations has been a significant force for good in shaping societies across the world for the better. This collection of monumental movements, events and campaigns vividly illustrates the point.” 

Professor Anne Gregory, CIPR board member and chair of judges, said, “We are very grateful to the judges for identifying these world changing campaigns. I’m struck by the common theme that ties them together: they are about movements. Pivotal moments that galvanized change involving millions of people, whether that’s about the world awakening to injustice, shaping consumer choice, generating a new relationship with technology, transforming attitudes to health issues or driving action on our natural environment. This is public relations making a positive contribution and helping change the world: it doesn’t get more important than this.”