LONDON — The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has agreed a new roadmap for its future structure, after the completion of its independent governance review.

The review, initially launched by chair Sarah Scholefield, Grayling’s global CEO, in September last year, has been underway since November, with an independent panel led by Professor Chris Bones. The panel conducted 50 individual interviews and a survey of members, and mapped the PRCA’s processes against best practice among other trade associations and private sector organisations.

As part of the recommendations of the review panel, the current PRCA board has agreed a number of significant changes to the organisation, including a greatly slimmed down management board, from 34 to eight members.

The new management board will be responsible for the running of the PRCA across all activities and subsidiary organisations, including international operations. This body will appoint senior executives of the PRCA, including a CEO (replacing the previous director-general role), for whom a search will begin soon. It will also oversee new audit & risk and nominations & remuneration committees.

A general council will act as the overall governing body, appointing professional and management boards, and standing committees covering standards, diversity and inclusion, education, climate and other key issues facing the industry.

The PRCA general council, on which all member organisations will have a representative, will be chaired by a president who will be elected annually, and who will act as a spokesperson and lead representative for the industry.

Two directors on the management board will be appointed, via a nominations committee, from outside the industry. In addition, the standards board, which will be accountable for the voluntary regulatory arrangements which govern PRCA members and employees, will include external appointees as well as the chairs of each of the professional boards.

The PRCA will be appointing an independent senior executive within the next two weeks to lead the introduction of the new structures and processes.

A board-appointed working group will oversee the next phase of implementation, preparing for an EGM in September 2023, at which the new governance structures will be proposed, and a new interim president and interim management board will be appointed, running up to the next AGM in April 2024.

The governance review was overseen by a working group consisting of Sarah Scholefield and board members Gavin Devine (Park Street Partners), Ray Eglington (Four Communications) and Steffan Williams (Williams Nicholson). This group is now being extended to include more current board members: strategic advisor Rachel Bell, Matt Brown (Transport for London), Matt Buchanan (Ogilvy), Liam Herbert (Rud Pedersen), Tanya Joseph (H+K), Lis Lewis-Jones (Liquid PR), Barbara Phillips (Brownstone Communications) and Guy Woodcock (Montpelier Public Relations).

Eglington told PRovoke Media: “We’re genuinely really pleased, as are the external advisors, that it’s a robust structure and a set of processes that is very forward-looking – we’re taking all the good things that have happened and making sure we can do that for the next five or 10 years, but in a more robust and accountable way.

“It’s just good housekeeping and we’re pleased that it gives us a platform for growth and gives the new leadership structure clear guardrails of how to operate and move forward. There will be some tweaks over the next few months, but it’s all very sensible, and there has been a hugely positive reception from the PRCA team.”

While the process is underway, Eglington said it would be “business as usual” for the PRCA team and members, with deputy director general Renna Markson continuing to lead the organisation, as she has since the death of director general Francis Ingham in March.

Scholefield (pictured) said the new structure would ensure continued and improved representation of the PR industry, while bolstering governance, oversight and decision-making processes: “Our wide-ranging consultation exercise showed enormous support and goodwill towards the PRCA from across the membership. There is clear and widespread recognition of its many successes in the UK and internationally under the leadership of the late Francis Ingham.

“But the study also highlighted the need to refresh governance, decision-making processes and transparency as we move forward into the next phase of growth. Our new blueprint gives an evolutionary path forward, ensuring the PRCA adopts best practice in all areas of governance while continuing to be a powerful voice for our industry.”