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One voice, one profession...

In a wide ranging interview with the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA), to clarify issues raised by the industry and put certain regulatory initiatives into perspective, Communicate Editor, Louise Marsland, presents an edited version of the Q & A with Margaret Moscardi, PRISA executive director. Seugnet van Niekerk, in charge of PRISA education, was interviewed regarding training.

The issue of PRISA relevance

Q: Is PRISA still the most relevant body representing PROs in South Africa - in the context of the many consultants who are not members, and reported increasing membership of marketing organisations in place of PRISA?

A:

PRISA has access to global networks and provides business referrals for its members. Advocacy and reputation of the profession is vital and it is in the interests of all public relations professionals (whether members or not) to take an active role in enhancing the reputation of their chosen field of expertise.

Some of the consultants are joint members of the Marketing Federation of SA and PRISA. If you look at relevance, at the moment what we are doing, is getting all the different PR and communication bodies active in the industry together: Unitech (Universities/ Technikons PR & development officers); Sacomm (academics); PRCC; Consultants Chapter of PRISA; IABC (International Association of Business Communicators); GCIS (Govt Communications Information System); the Investor Relations Institute of SA and the SA Institute of Fundraisers.

We started in January 2003 and are busy forming an over-arching body - through a Section 21 company - to look at ethics in public relations and the communication management spectrum of activity. Everyone has different codes and it is important for there to be one voice for the profession, and it is important for the Services SETA to have one organisation representing the discipline.

The working title of the new body is the Council for Public Relations and Communication Management Associations. It ties in with the international body - the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, the association for all associations globally, whose main purpose is to position the profession internationally with a global ethics protocol and help national PR body start-ups in Russia, China, etc. All members of the Global Alliance, including PRISA, have three years to bring their associations in line with international standards, deadline 2006. PRISA is a founder member of the Global Alliance.

Q: Is it unfair criticism when PRISA is accused of not keeping up with trends, ie, global communication trends and training?

A:

Q: PRISA is not seen as a player in the business arena and is not seen as a significant organisation among PROs/consultants themselves. Is this due to consultants remaining outside of the process, or insufficient communication by PRISA?

A:

Q: Why does PR have such a poor reputation in South Africa?

A:

Q: How do you intend to address negative perceptions of PR in the SA business and media landscape?

A:

Q: How are you going to reach all those communication consultants out there and convince them to become members of PRISA?

A:

Training

Q: Has PRISA re-examined its courses to match evolving business practice?

A:

Q: Does training take into account the Government's empowerment protocol?

A:

Q: Does training take into account global shifts in communication where PR practitioners/communication professionals are becoming brand custodians, upskilling in branding, marketing and media strategy?

A:

Communication

Q: The way forward - how is PRISA going to transform itself into a truly representative and respected industry lobby group?

A:

For more information on PRISA, to go www.prisa.co.za. There is also a click through to the Global Alliance site from there.

About Louise Marsland

Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is Founder/Content Director: SOURCE Content Marketing Agency. Louise is a Writer, Publisher, Editor, Content Strategist, Content/Media Trainer. She has written about consumer trends, brands, branding, media, marketing and the advertising communications industry in SA and across Africa, for over 20 years, notably, as previous Africa Editor: Bizcommunity.com; Editor: Bizcommunity Media/Marketing SA; Editor-in-Chief: AdVantage magazine; Editor: Marketing Mix magazine; Editor: Progressive Retailing magazine; Editor: BusinessBrief magazine; Editor: FMCG Files newsletter. Web: www.sourceagency.co.za.

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