Office-holder endorsements and CIPR elections – an agnostic view

The CIPR elections under way.

According to a blog post from former president, Kevin Taylor, the elections are unusual for the openness of existing officers in endorsing candidates. He welcomes this, though with caution, and in juxtaposition to the intrigue that went before in which a preferred candidate might emerge.

Another former president, Stephen Waddington, sets out a counterview, that allowing open endorsements “does the governance and reputation of the CIPR no favours”.

I am agnostic.

There is nothing wrong in seeking and using endorsements in principle. Anyone who’s provided a job reference or a client testimonial has done pretty much that. It is how endorsements are made and with what regulation that matters.

Endorsements can be helpful. I don’t mean the ones that say “X is brilliant. Vote for them”. I mean the ones that identify the qualities, skills and expertise that either a candidate declines to mention out of modesty (okay, unlikely in PR!?!), or might be discounted as bombast. I’m particularly aware that I’ve voted for one candidate on the open list because they came to my attention through the endorsement of someone I follow on Twitter. It meant I looked carefully at their candidate statement in a way that I might not have done had there been no endorsement.

I’m a party political animal. I’m used to elections in which the resulting body – a council – is split by political group. Councillors worked across the boundaries, but decisions routinely were by vote.

The CIPR Board is not a council. Working should be extensively collaborative and decision-making, ideally, by consensus.

Are there risks then in open endorsements? Indeed, open endorsement seems to be a campaign tool judging by the number of tweets and retweets I’ve seen. It could be a source of friction once the election is over and people must work with each other.

Open endorsement also carries with it the risk of perceptions – if not the reality – of a slate; an organised attempt to push the organisation in one or other direction through sheer weight of numbers. I should stress that this is a deliberate offering of the most pessimistic view for discussion, not because I believe it to be the case.

As I said, I’m agnostic. But I agree with Stephen Waddington when he says: “This will be an important discussion for the CIPR once the election is over.”

UPDATED: paragraph relating to numbers of candidates for president-elect being unusual deleted as incorrect. Other minor changes to improve use of English language! No material impact on substance of post.

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