APPC-PRCA merger gets the green light from members at EGM
PRCA director general Francis Ingham said it marked 'a great day for lobbying'.
The APPC will merge with the PRCA after 57% of voting member organisations backed the controversial plan.
Some 39 member bodies voted in favour of the move, with the result announced at Monday evening’s extraordinary general meeting. It was opposed by 29 organisations. The turn out for the vote was 91 per cent.
The news is a blow for a number of senior agency figures who had opposed the vote such as Lexington Communications partner Ian Kennedy, Teneo Blue Rubicon principal Graham McMillan and FTI Consulting head of public affairs Alex Deane.
However the result was celebrated by PRCA director general Francis Ingham and APPC chairman Paul Bristow who had strongly backed the plan.
Responding to the verdict, Ingham said: “The PRCA loudly applauds this decision by APPC members. By uniting our two organisations, we will create an incredibly powerful voice for our industry as a force for democratic good; and an even more powerful self regulatory body as we set and enforce the industry’s gold standard ethical code. This is a great day for lobbying.”
Bristow said: “This an historic night for the lobbying industry in the UK. By combining forces with the PRCA we not only elevate the voice of lobbying in the UK, but we have the opportunity to offer much greater support to our members.
“The APPC was formed in the wake of direct challenges and threats facing our industry. Almost a quarter of a century on our members face new, albeit different, threats from the growth of regulation. By merging with the PRCA we will can now offer our members a stronger and more united voice.
“What has become absolutely clear over recent months - whatever side of the debate people are on - is that lobbyists care deeply about making sure that we have a representative body which can speak up in defence of public affairs powerfully and passionately. Our membership has decided that merging with the PRCA is the best way to achieve this.”
Industry figures will now be watching closely to see whether opponents of the plan will boycott the new merged organisation or throw their weight behind it.
A number of senior public affairs figures opposed to the plan recently argued that “it is not in the best interests of the industry to pursue a vote at this time” and that “if the vote goes ahead, whatever the outcome, there is likely to be significant division within the industry”.
But in response to the announcement Emily Wallace and Darren Caplan, joint leaders of the Campaign for an Independent APPC, called for unity.
“Now is the time for all sides to come together and to work for a strong public affairs industry in future. Clearly this has been a tight race and it is important that the voice of those who supported the pro-independence campaign is heard too, when the PRCA’s new ‘Public Affairs Board’ is set up,” they said in a statement.
“The plans proposed by the pro merger campaign now need to be consulted on properly and implemented with the support of the entire industry. As those plans are adopted we ask that the 'gold standard' code of conduct, lobbying register, training and complaints procedure is maintained. In particular, we would expect to see all members fully consulted about any proposed future changes to the code.”