News: CIPR writes to Belfast Telegraph in support of public sector communicators

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THE Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has written to the Belfast Telegraph in support of public sector communicators following a front page story that questioned the value of an advertised public relations role.

The article details the role at Belfast City Council, which will include leading the marketing campaigns for the city and managing media relations for the Council. The letter from the CIPR – sent last week – outlines the value of professional public relations and underscores the confidence the public should have from the presence of ethical, strategic, and impact-driven practitioners in Northern Ireland as evidenced by the notable percentage of chartered practitioners and fellows of the Institute in the region.

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The letter also raises concerns that articles of this nature could damage course applications at Ulster University’s esteemed PR and communications courses.

CIPR’s CEO, Alastair McCapra (pictured), said, “Public relations is more than spin and publicity. Strategically it is about fostering trust and goodwill, and promoting understanding between organizations and their various stakeholders. Within the public sector, communication serves a crucial purpose by responsibly delivering information and services, effectively communicating change, and encouraging and ensuring public engagement. 

This invaluable contribution deserves our unwavering support and appreciation. This story shows a lack of understanding for PR’s strategic function and fails to recognize the many responsibilities that come with serving the needs of the community and driving positive change. It also sends a worrying message that undermines PR careers and those studying PR courses or looking to make their way into the industry by suggesting they are not deserving of these salaries.

CIPR Northern Ireland chair, Brittany Breslin said, “Council communicators have a vital responsibility to engage the public about frontline services. This cannot be done effectively without professional public relations support. The PR community in Northern Ireland is proud of its commitment to continuous professionalism and its record of achievement and the public should be confident that roles like this will ensure services are more effective, reach the most vulnerable, and allow for crucial two-way communication between Council leaders and the public. The right person in this role will boost inward investment and grow tourism that will only serve to benefit the city and jobs.”

The CIPR has recently published the following guides showcasing the strategic value of public relations to organizations: Communicating in a Crisis – showcasing how public relations was used to support the public during the pandemic, and The Role of Public Relations in Strategic Planning and Crisis Preparedness – co-published a guide with the Institute of Directors.