Debate: Is Australian PR big enough for two industry bodies?

Topic: With the Public Relations Council formed ostensibly to address the gap in consumer agency representation, is Australia’s PR industry large enough to support two industry bodies, or will they converge?



Claire SalvettiClaire Salvetti
Managing director

There is much industry discussion and debate around the newly-formed Public Relations Council (PRC). The PRC was started by a group of industry leaders with proven track records in consumer PR and it will increase access to experiences and insights for its members from the wider marcomms group, with the aim of raising benchmarks across the PR industry.

It’s the right time for another industry body to be thrown into the mix. Since 1943, the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s (PRIA’s) role has been to promote and enhance the profession and its status to the broader community. The industry over the last few years has evolved and expanded its remit considerably. I feel that now there is enough room for both, to support a vast and diverse group of people with an incredibly broad skill set.

The Communications Council of Australia is a strong, intelligent and strategic group. Under the leadership of Margaret Zabel, I believe it is true ambassador and representative of today’s Australian communications industry.When I first heard about the PRC I immediately thought about the integration model within which Mango sits. It made perfect sense to me. Mango Sydney is the PR and sponsorship arm of the DDB Group Sydney and the PRC is a subsidiary of The Communications Council.

I believe there is enough room for both the PRIA and the PRC. The PRIA has made a huge contribution to the public relations industry. I have personally benefited from its mentoring program and have been inspired by the work and PR talent as showcased through its functions and awards.

I envisage many of us will refer to both the PRC and PRIA and I plan on being an active member of both.


Caroline SilerCaroline Siler
Keep Left

Yes, we believe two industry bodies can co-exist and welcome the injection of competition the Public Relations Council will bring. As with any industry, a monopoly is never a good thing and stifles innovation, creativity and hunger.

The public relations industry in Australia is big enough to support two industry bodies and diverse enough to need industry groups that are focused on delivering against members’ specific needs and have a clear ‘reason for being.’

It’s been great to see the Public Relations Council come out and declare itself as representing consumer-focused agencies. The initial show of support it received from the industry is a clear sign there’s an itch to be scratched here.

It’s early days though and details of how the Public Relations Council will operate and what it will offer are yet to be revealed, including the cost of membership.

As far as the PRIA’s ‘reason for being’, this has perhaps been diluted by its attempt to represent the needs of a very broad constituency – and that’s not an easy task. If it was just a case of segmenting corporate versus consumer or agency versus in-house, that would be straightforward enough, but the modern day public relations landscape is diverse and complex. These days we’re an industry of community managers, publicists, creative producers, corporate affairs managers and everything in between. And that’s before we even think about a B2B, B2C or government focus.

There’s work to do, but healthy competition will only help us move forward in the right direction.

Keep Left plans to support both the Public Relations Council and PRIA. There’s room enough for two if they can focus and deliver value.


Nicolas TurnerNicolas Turner
Managing director

There are some overlapping interests between the Public Relations Institute of Australia and the group that has been proposed by The Communications Council. But, from what I have read about the new group and what has been communicated directly to the PRIA about its intentions, it will be strongly agency-focused in the consumer public relations space.

The PRIA is an organisation for individual members. This is an important point of difference.

That said, the PRIA caters for ‘agency membership’ through a dedicated program for consultancies. Known as the Registered Consultancies Group (RCG), it is the peak professional body for people who own public relations and communication consultancies across Australia.

The PRIA’s RCG has a strong record of delivering excellent policy outcomes for communication professionals in Australia – the lobbyists code and work-place relations law are just two recent examples.

It is also the Australian representative of the International Communication Consultancies Organisation, providing the latest global information, trends and networking opportunities for Australiabased consultancies.

PRIA members, and RCG members, work with a wide range of industries and interests across many communication disciplines – consumer PR is just one of many.

The PRIA represents many excellent consumer PR professionals, and I am sure will continue to do so. For as long as I have been a member of the PRIA, we have collaborated with various communication and professional organisations to leverage resources and share knowledge and information. There is no reason why this won’t continue into the future for the ultimate benefit of our members.


Margaret ZabelMargaret Zabel
The Communications Council

The Australian communications landscape is colourful, diverse and increasingly integrated. With the recent formation of the Public Relations Council, a group representing the interests of many of Australia’s leading consumer public relations agencies, the intention is that it will become even more interconnected.

The recently formed PRC will be representing the consumer PR speciality to the marketing communications industry, clients and the wider business community.

Under chair Stuart Gregor (Liquid Ideas), it has an ambitious future program of activities to identify opportunities to bring its discipline to the fore.

A major driver has been the opportunity to have a seat at the table with our other communications members, but also to ensure a stronger and more unified voice in industry matters, and the ability to benchmark its work against that of other commercial creative agencies.

In the Communications Council’s view, the formation of the PRC is testimony to the realisation that breaking down barriers between marketing disciplines is necessary to better represent agencies’ needs and deliver better service to their clients.

We take the same view in dealing with other industry organisations. We increasingly collaborate on industry issues and speak with one voice on issues of mutual interest, working together to highlight the contribution of our sector to the economy and the society we live in. The PRC was not devised to replace the PRIA. We’d like to think that members can have a prosperous relationship with both organisations.

We should focus on ‘together stronger’, rather than ‘individually stronger’.