Our (PR) Friends in the North

One of the sadder parts of stepping down as Chair of CIPR Yorkshire & Lincolnshire was that I never got to organise a Northern Conference.

I did get to help organise one for my predecessor. The one where we invited Max Clifford. That was fun. But it wasn’t our turn during my two years, and my successor didn’t want to organise one so they stopped happening.

So I’m pleased to report that CIPR North East picked up the cudgel and organised a fantastic first edition of the new run last Friday. Where they lead, North West and Y&L will hopefully follow.

Apart from the obvious great speakers, workshops and learning points, the thing that stood out for me was how many great blog posts there have been from attendees (excluding this one), and the tweets and retweets on the day, from people who obviously got something out of at least part of it. People who would never normally go to London for National Conference or similar.

I’ve said for a long time – and will continue to say, sorry – that the best way for the Chartered Institute to sell itself and the profession is to get out and meet its members. We have Northern Conference, there’s one in the Midlands, East Anglia, other people do things in Scotland and the south west. Where there are members there should be active, local groups doing things to support them – with support themselves from the centre.

And, sadly, that was the only low point of the event. There was a good turnout at the AGM the night before, with several Council members and staff in the bar afterwards. Most of them left that night or first thing in the morning. I know some people had to be elsewhere but some of them clearly didn’t, as they didn’t leave until nearer midday.

There were a few seats going spare at the front from last-minute drop-outs; they could have nipped in, seen the first speaker at least, pressed some flesh and then gone. But no. Very disappointing.

Will that stop us pushing to hold the AGM before or after Northern Conference next year? Of course not! Regional groups organising day-long conferences for local members – it’s what we should be doing, with support from Committees and dedicated staff in the centre.

Sorry if that sounds like a manifesto, call to arms or plea for votes… but it’s what I believe. And I know I’m not the only one.

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