Il Festival Mondiale di Roma visto da The Strategist
Su The Strategist (Usa) Juan-Carlos Molleda parla del Festival Mondiale di Roma, organizzato da Ferpi e Global Alliance. Vi proponiamo l'articolo in versione integrale, buona lettura.
At the Italian Federation of Public Relations (FERPI) World Festival in Rome last summer, I witnessed the recognition of PRSA's accomplishments over the years and, specifically, its international influence acknowledged by professionals and associations from other countries. The positive references were encouraging, especially now that the image of the United States is being challenged abroad. It is refreshing to realize that we can make a difference in a world that desires better communication, integration and collaboration.
I had another eye-opening experience at the same event when other associations showcased their achievements in Accreditation programs, recruitment and retention of members, professional development and ethics, and social responsibility programs. Many national associations, including PRSA, shared similar concerns and challenges, which is a reason to increase the exchange of ideas, programs and resources worldwide - we learn from each other.
Since 1997, PRSA has supported the establishment and development of a coordinating body with equal representation composed of national and international PR associations worldwide. Today, with 60 associations representing some 150,000 members, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA) provides leadership in unifying the worldwide PR community under a common vision: one profession, one voice.
The GA is a collaborative of national and international PR professional organizations that encourages debate and discussion of common issues facing our industry. Likewise, the GA works to set standards for the practice of public relations and provide venues and channels for increasing interactions among global practitioners. As no individual membership is considered, the national association is the Alliance's primary focus.
The idea behind the Alliance can be summarized in three concepts: global efficiency, worldwide learning and multinational flexibility/national responsiveness. The GA approaches global efficiency by sharing resources such as its Web site and database of professional contacts (www.globalpr.org). Worldwide learning is accomplished by addressing common challenges and issues, and will be embraced in the future by sharing best practices through case studies.
The core offering of the GA allows member associations to share resources and achieve greater unity through dialogue and building constructive relationships.
The BeginningsThe efforts to establish a global clearinghouse began at PRSA in 1997 when, after reviewing a position paper from the Society's International Professional Interest Section, the board of directors established a task force on global understanding and began a process of exploring how to best interact with the global PR community, says Deanna K.W. Pelfrey, APR, Fellow PRSA, GA's interim chair from 2000 through 2002. Over the next year, the task force directed research and the design of a business model for this effort.
In June 1998, a meeting of several like-minded PR organizations was held in London at the headquarters of the Institute of Public Relations (IPR). Four months later, following PRSA's International Conference in Boston, the first formal meeting was held with representatives of associations that were interested in this concept. Two more meetings took place in 1999 following the annual International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Conference in Washington, D.C., and in 2000 in tandem with the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Conference in Ottawa.
Acting on the global collaborative framework, the formal commitment to establish the Alliance was reached at a meeting that followed PRSA's 2000 International Conference in Chicago. Twenty-three associations were part of this historic moment in our industry.
Throughout the period of exploration with associations across the world - from 1998 through 2000 - the PRSA Global Initiatives Committee, led by Pelfrey and Rob Wakefield, APR, played an active role. According to Pelfrey, some of PRSA's challenges in interacting with the other associations in the initial stages of creating the GA were: building understanding and trust among representatives from various associations and cultures; clarifying that the purpose of the collaborative was not to duplicate the efforts of existing organizations, but to enhance the PR profession worldwide; establishing a principle of inclusion with equal representation for all associations whatever their size, longevity or financial status; and determining that decision-making would be accomplished through consensus. "Perseverance and tenacity were essential," Pelfrey says.
In 2002, the GA became a registered nonprofit, initiated a formal election process for its leadership and structured seven committees and the following work groups that are currently in operation: advocacy and policy; ethical standards; evaluation and measurement; professional Accreditation and certification; professional development; research and academic links; and social and global issues. Relevant outcomes of these collaborative efforts include a Global Protocol of Ethics introduced in Rome in 2003 and a study on regulations in Italy, South Africa and the United Kingdom. (See sidebar for more on the study.) PRSA supports and contributes to every major GA initiative.
The GA convenes twice annually, once with the executive board and the other as a General Council meeting in which all association representatives are encouraged to participate. Meetings are held as a component of conferences organized by national association members. In return, the GA contributes keynote speakers at no cost to the host association.
Global Alliance meetings have been hosted by the respective associations in London and Stockholm in 2001; Johannesburg, South Africa, and Lake Bled, Slovenia, in 2002; Auckland, New Zealand, and Rome in 2003. The next executive board meeting will be held in Miami and the General Council meeting will be held in Quebec City, Canada, in 2004, in conjunction with the annual CPRS conference.
Toni Muzi Falconi, the GA's 2003 president, emphasizes the role of national associations to further the development of the Alliance and, therefore, the PR industry worldwide.
"Professional associations that want to make a difference have a major challenge: get their act together, be more effective and truly represent the profession, rather than just its members," Muzi Falconi says.
Future Developments and ChallengesEstablishing proper structural governance and a solid financial foundation were two of the initial priorities of the Alliance. For instance, Pelfrey was the interim chair from 2000 through 2002; then Muzi Falconi was elected to take over the leadership position in 2003. The 2004-2005 chair, Jean Valin, and subsequent leaders, will hold the chair for two years.
The GA has launched a strategic planning process with a consultation phase that will allow the membership to set priorities for achieving its vision.
"The Global Alliance can achieve what no single PR association can do alone," says Valin. "We can agree on common standards and we can help each other become stronger in our respective countries. With the creation of the GA, we have seized a unique opportunity, and together are shaping a stronger platform from which we can advocate for our profession."
According to Valin, the GA's challenge is twofold: to continue its efforts with established associations and to grow the Alliance by reaching out and helping emerging, developing and small associations. "One thing is certain: Through dialogue and a shared vision, we can unite this profession on a global scale," Valin says.
Reaching Out to Latin America and the CaribbeanWhat follows is an example of how the GA works to expand its membership with the incorporation of the underrepresented areas of the world. To accomplish significant representation from every continent in the GA, reaching out to national associations in Latin America and the Caribbean is a priority.
The Alliance is working to overcome language, economic and geographic barriers. Concerning language, key documents such as the Global Protocol of Ethics have been translated into Spanish. Since its formation, the GA has emphasized that limited finances are not an impediment for an emerging or developing national association to become a member. Both probono work and other participation of those members can be considered as payment for the annual contribution. The GA is hoping to establish a fund to allow representatives of associations in developing countries to travel and attend meetings held in distant locations.
In addition, the Public Relations Society of Puerto Rico, the Inter-American Confederation of Public Relations (CONFIARP), headquartered in Brazil, the Public Relations Agencies Association of Mexico (PRAA) and the Federal Council of Public Relations Professionals (CONFERP) of Brazil have joined the Alliance. Last December, Valin was invited by CONFERP to share the GA vision and explore the possibility of a future GA meeting hosted by this Council.
With my assistance, Valin is approaching other Latin American associations in countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. PR associations in the region are trying to increase their influence inside their borders and among their neighbors. Similarly, they appear interested in expanding their contacts across borders, which may be a formula for strengthening their foundations and gaining further recognition from domestic and regional business and government sectors.
Major global PR firms, domestic consultancies, freelancers, small boutiques, PR departments of transnational and large national corporations, public information and public affairs units in government institutions, communication arms in nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations are sprouting up in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, these national and regional professional associations, with few exceptions, are not efficiently advocating proper recognition and respect for public relations as a strategic profession. Further complicating matters, there is more than one regional professional confederation of national associations. In addition, in some countries they compete with each other and often do not communicate or even acknowledge each other's existence.This scenario makes outreach efforts difficult. Nevertheless, with the long-term and systematic approach embraced by the GA, the task can be accomplished over time. The progressive identification of established associations and their introduction to the benefits obtained through a network of global professionals could result in a greater representation of Latin America and the Caribbean in the GA. The GA can also assist these associations to excel in promoting the profession and uniting professionals around common global standards.