I’m still sitting on the fence, undecided where to cast my vote – but certain that I should vote in the election for CIPR president. Perhaps this post will clarify my thinking.
There are two strong candidates, yet a vote is a binary choice. By voting for one candidate, you’re in effect voting against another.
Stephen Waddington is the frontrunner (besides which, I’m sure he’s never topped an alphabetical list before this election). Wadds is energetic, likeable and he’s set out a vision that provides clear leadership for the profession. My first instinct was to vote for Wadds. He is well connected and very active online, and will gain overwhelming support from the younger, socially-networked crowd.
Jon White is the outlier. He has been providing a thoughtful challenge to the profession for many decades as a scholar (he was the UK researcher involved in James Grunig’s excellence project) and practitioner. He’s a visionary, and the recent 2020 study of PR’s future was a useful contribution to the debates on PR’s standing. His perspective that public relations is a branch of management consultancy is challenging to all (and perhaps will antagonise some). Though a lower profile candidate, the demography of the electorate (CIPR members are older than typical PR practitioners) may favour Jon White who will be known to many older members. My instinct to vote for White is that he may not stand again (Wadds is younger, and could be persuaded to run again).
While I mull over my personal (and private) choice – here’s my prediction of the outcome. I expect Wadds to win, but by a narrower margin that some would expect (55%-45% of those voting). Whoever you choose, do please vote if you’re eligible as it will give the winning candidate a mandate to provide much-needed leadership.