The PR Bubble

Those familiar with politics will know what I mean when I talk about the Beltway, or the Westminster Village (and for those that don’t, I’ve provided links).

My experience of the last three weeks is that we have a similar PR ‘bubble’.

I’ve been a past Committee chair(man) and thus sat on Council under the old rules, so I know – or have at least heard of – most of the people standing for election the last few years because we’ll have met in Chairs’ meetings, or Council, or on Professional Development & Membership, or at events or AGMs.

That means I’m naturally biased towards the people I’ve heard of and worked with when it comes to election time. It also, of course, means I’m naturally biased *against* some people.

That also meant I was in the odd position of knowing both my President-Elect opponents. I recalled what they’ve done, the books they’ve published, the letters after their names and wondered if I’m even going to get the 10 votes from my nominees. But… it doesn’t work like that. Outside of the PR ‘bubble’ (should we call it a ‘wine bar’?), do people know who the three of us are? Worse than that, how many of them care?

I met someone the other day who thought they knew I was standing in the elections but couldn’t tell me for what, or who else was. Thanks for that.

Turnout at CIPR elections is always low. It would be nice to think that three, engaging (ish) candidates will help increase voter turnout. My suspicion though is that we won’t hit the giddy heights of 50%. I’d settle for 20%, if I’m being honest – almost double what it was three or four years ago. The Police and Crime Commissioner elections in 2016 produced turnouts of between 23% and 26% (in 2012 it was around 15%), and they’re not the most inspiring of things to go out and vote for, so that would be a good target.

It’s one area I’ve felt for some time that we’re failing in as a membership body. We may be no worse than any other membership body when it comes to elections (I don’t have those sorts of stats to hand), but I don’t think we should be comparing ourselves against other membership bodies anyway, in any way. The bottom line is we need much higher engagement levels if any of us wants to say that we truly have a mandate to be President. As ‘engagement’ is one of my three keywords, I claim the moral high ground of at least knowing we have a problem, and presenting a possible solution 🙂

Confession time

I know that’s idealistic. I know this because, if it were just Sarah and Emma standing I would read both their candidate statements and then vote for the one I know better. It’s the same for all of us and I know some people will have voted for me because they’ve heard of me. That’s just the way it is. But that won’t stop me trying to change it.

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