PRIA looks at merger and rebranding options

PRIA logoPublic relations industry body the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) says it will seek to grow its membership in 2014-15, after posting its third consecutive loss in the last financial year.

PRIA yesterday confirmed an $18,000 loss at its annual general meeting in Brisbane with its national president Mike Watson announcing that it will seek to expand its membership next year while also considering options for a merger and rebranding.

“The extraordinary loss for 2013-14 was due to the new auditing system that we have inherited but it was much better than it could have been,” said Watson.

“If the directors had not stepped up to the plate we would probably not be looking at the Institute even existing – it was that serious. We came close but we did not trade while insolvent and the good news is we currently have $440,000 in the bank as of the end of October.”

Watson said that PRIA was looking at options to expand its membership, possibly even merging with other like-minded organisations.

“The Institute needs to change and reinvent itself – possibly look at a name change,” he said. “We are looking at building our membership base not just in Australia but are also looking elsewhere and looking at merging with PRIA as the major partner.

“We are trying to attract other associations that are also finding it difficult to service their members and provide the sorts of things that they want.”

The PRIA boss told the audience that the Institute’s current membership of around 2,200 individual members and 175 consultancies in Australia needed to expand for the organisation to better sustain itself.

“They say there are 15-20,000 people in the Australian professional communication marketplace and we currently account for about a tenth of that. There is certainly room for growth.”

Watson said the other part of the growth strategy would be around more events, with the aim of better engaging public relations executives.

“(Our) achilles heel is still membership and events,” he said. “If you have the events then you will get the members.

“The Board only yesterday started identifying and developing growth strategies for our Institute and these will dovetail in with the national strategies that the National Headquarters have also looked at.”

Earlier this year rival organisation the Public Relations Council (PRC), which falls under the Communications Council, proposed a merger with PRIA but was rebuffed by the incoming leadership of the Institute. 

Other groups that could potentially be part of a PR merger is the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) but it too said PRC was not capable of representing the whole PR industry.

Nic Christensen 


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