Lobbying 'gang of four' call for APPC merger to be put on hold
Alec Deane, Nick Lansman, Ian Kennedy and and Simon Whale are putting fresh pressure on the APPC leadership.
A quartet of senior public affairs agency figures have written to the APPC leadership to call for the controversial PRCA merger plan to be put on hold.
Top lobbyists at Lexington Communications, FTI Consulting, Luther Pendragon and Political Intelligence are pushing for a pause as the APPC is today sending ballots in the post to all member firms. Members are also being sent 500 word arguments for and against the proposal, penned by George McGregor and by Emma Petela.
The move by lobbying's 'gang of four' comes after the APPC management committee discussed a proposal to pause the merger this week. It is understood that there was a vote with three people backing a pause in proceedings.
Their letter states that, whatever the outcome, the planned merger vote will lead to significant division within the industry. It argues that “a pause followed by a proper consultation is the only common sense solution” to give members the opportunity to fully explore the best way forward for the APPC.
It concludes that the vote could be revisited at a later date “if it is clear that this is what members want”.
The letter has been signed by Lexington Communications partner Ian Kennedy, FTI Consulting senior managing director Alex Deane, Luther Pendragon managing director Simon Whale and Political Intelligence founder and chairman Nick Lansman.
Responding to the letter, APPC chair Paul Bristow said: “While not consistent with our Articles of Association, at the last management committee meeting we did discuss a request from an individual from a member agency for a pause in the process, but the committee ultimately decided not to pause the process.
“I have also responded to the signatories of the letter to offer each of them meetings with me to address their individual concerns.”
The full letter:
To the APPC leadership,
We are writing to you to seek a pause in the APPC-PRCA merger vote. We are all convinced that that it is not in the best interests of the industry to pursue a vote at this time. It is clear that if the vote goes ahead, whatever the outcome, there is likely to be significant division within the industry. A pause followed by a proper consultation is the only common sense solution.
It has been clear from conversations with colleagues right across the industry that both public supporters of the proposal and those against it agree that the APPC-PRCA merger process has not been adequate for a decision of such importance. So we call on the Management Committee to suspend the voting proceedings and the EGM scheduled for 8 October,
so that a wide-ranging consultation on the merger proposals and possible alternatives can take place in the coming months.
At the same time as the consultation the Management Committee and its Directors would be tasked with undertaking a thorough process of due diligence related to the merger, and to seek to fully investigate the implications of any changes to the APPC’s Code of Conduct and its independent complaints procedure.
We sincerely believe that pausing the vote now will enable all members – whether pro merger, pro independence or undecided – to have a much better understanding of the implications of the proposals and of alternative ideas for a better APPC. It would give us a greater chance to build a broad consensus about the best way forward for the APPC. The vote could then be revisited, if it is clear that this is what members want, after this consultation has been undertaken.