As the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) approaches its 60th Anniversary, practitioners in the United States are well aware of the active and important role IPR has played in driving the advancement of public relations. However, for communications professionals outside the U.S., there is far less awareness and understanding of IPR and the work the organization is doing to support the changing nature and increasing importance of our profession.
The Board of IPR understands this needs to change to reflect the interconnected world in which we live and efforts are being carried out to develop a more impactful presence for IPR in regions outside the U.S.
We recently formed the IPR Globalization Committee in order to identify, promote, and engage opportunities internationally for IPR to conduct, promote, and support research that matters to the global profession. The Committee has a number of objectives, including to: conduct and present research in international regions; apply more research internationally, identify opportunities to get individuals and organizations in locations outside the U.S. more involved in IPR; and to recruit more international board members.
For those unfamiliar with IPR, our Mission is dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations. We focus on research that matters to the practice, providing timely insights and applied intelligence that professionals can put to immediate use.
The work carried out by IPR and the research it generates is very relevant to communications leaders around the world who are striving to develop and execute communications programs that are impactful, sustainable and measurable.
Asia, where I live and work, remains the most dynamic growth region in the world and sees a correspondingly high level of activity by both global companies and those headquartered in the region looking for the growth and returns that doing business in Asia can provide. As this process continues to advance, communications professionals in Asia are playing a key role in helping companies navigate what is very often a complex, issues-rich and fast-paced environment. Bringing external, global perspectives on public relations to the region continues to play an important role in supporting the advancement of the profession. The Board of IPR represents some of the world’s leading companies and PR agencies, providing access for the organization to many thought leaders in the corporate, academic and agency arenas.
Research is important to our ability to continue to advance the public relations function and demonstrate the business value we can deliver. IPR, in this context, is playing a key role in helping those in public relations better and more systematically understand the changing role and impact of PR and what this means for practitioners.
Looking ahead, IPR will conduct more research that is international in nature. A recent example was a study on Organizational Clarity, an IPR Signature Study conducted by the IPR Commission on Organizational Communication. More than 1,500 employees in five countries— United States, United Kingdom, India, Brazil, and China—were surveyed about how well they think their organization connects to three dimensions in terms of employee alignment: job, strategy and market. The findings are of direct relevance to communicators in these markets and globally. In China, for example, one conclusion of the study was that there is a gap is in the communication of the organizations strategy—and that organizations in China need to do a better job ensuring that employees understand their overall strategy.
IPR is approaching its seventh decade and perhaps one ingredient to its longevity is a guard against complacency. Whether in Asia or elsewhere around the world, we will continue to actively look for opportunities where IPR can make a real and valued difference in supporting the field of public relations – and the professionalism and effectiveness of its practitioners.
Stephen Thomas is an IPR Trusteee and the Group Head of Corporate Communications at AIA Group. Follow him on Twitter @stevethomas10.