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Terri-Helen Gaynor out as PRIA president, replaced by Mike Watson

Mike WatsonThe head of the country’s biggest public relations body the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) Terri-Helen Gaynor has chosen not to renominate as national president and is to be replaced by Swinburne academic Mike Watson.

Watson told Mumbrella he felt it was time to have a “tilt” at the role, signalled he will soon begin the search for a new CEO of the PR industry body, and added he would ” give some greater priority to some of those areas that I have thought needed attention.”

Watson has more than 20 years public relations experience and has held roles at Carma, iSentia and Telstra as well as his own consultancy MawPR. He is now lecturer at Swinburne University in Melbourne and a long serving member of the PRIA board.

His predecessor Gaynor has been national president since late 2012 and stood for re-election at last year’s PRIA national conference. However due to an “administrative dispute” had to renominate at an extraordinary general meeting last week.

“I did nominate however I was not happy with the way the process conducted into the led up to the EGM and I withdrew my nomination on the day before”, Gaynor told Mumbrella.

As PRIA national president Gaynor had made developing an accreditation program for public relations a priority.

“We had a clear vision strategy, a united board, we achieved a successful national conference, changed the membership proposition and were looking at accreditation standards. I can hold my head proud,” Gaynor said of her legacy.

Watson said he would continue to work on the accreditation issue and also developing the courses offered by PRIA.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk it over with my colleagues but accreditation would be one issue, the various programs that PRIA were working on is another — they all need to be reviewed and considered,” said Watson, when asked about his priorities as president.

Watson also said the search for a new PRIA CEO would also be a top priority with interim CEO Catriona Barry in the role for over a year and signalling she wishes to step down.

“I’ll be looking for a new CEO,” said Watson. “Catriona has signalled her interest in pursuing interests that are more dear to her heart, she does have another job and its one that they have been wanting her to step up to the plate in more efficiency than she has been able to do so far.”

Barry is also general manager of the charity Rainbow Club Australia but has agreed to stay on until a new CEO is found.

Nic Christensen 

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