Sweeping changes to the structure and focus of the Public Relations Institute of Australia have more to do with a “hole in the finances” than competition from the Communications Council, according to its president.
At an informal presentation to media yesterday Terri-Helen Gaynor se out a raft of changes to the body, including a new focus on professional development, pop-up committees to handle pressing issues and moving from a state-based to national structure.
Last year the Comms Council introduced a new Public Relations Council focussing on consumer PR, a move which many thought would spell trouble for PRIA.
Gaynor admitted when she took the role in November they were in a “financial hole” and “there was a feeling that there had to be more emphasis on the direction we were headed, a change of CEO, and a good hard look at ourselves”.
The change of CEO came, with Jon Bisset leaving the body in December, with interim CEO Catriona Barry appointed in January.
Gaynor added: “Since November the pace of change has startled people.
“I feel like a bit of a bull in a china shop at times, but fortunately there are people there to catch things when they fall.”
One initiative they are keen to push is closer links with government departments to help them sort their internal communications, as well as engagement with stakeholders, a plan they are looking to flesh out in the eight-week hiatus before the election later this year.
Gaynor also re-iterated her criticism of Naked Communications, which is not a member of PRIA, saying they had been “na√Øve, stupid and conniving” to attempt to elicit free advertising for the Labor party in return for interviews with Kevin Rudd in some youth oriented publications.