CIPR Scotland AGM 2015

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The 2014/15 annual report from the Scotland committee can be viewed as a PDF here.

The draft annual accounts of the CIPR Scotland Group to December 2014 can be viewed as a PDF here.

The Annual General Meeting of the Scotland Group of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) will be held on Tuesday 24th March 2015 starting at 6.30pm. it will take place at The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian on Princes Street. All members are invited to attend and should RSVP by booking a ticket through our Eventbrite page. Rob Brown FCIPR – CIPR President Elect, founding chair of the Social Media Panel and managing partner of communications agency Rule 5 – will be our guest speaker for the evening. Rob will discuss the impact of digital and social channels on the profession. The AGM will consider the following agenda:

  • To receive apologies for absence
  • To approve the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on Thursday 10 March 2014 (Scotland AGM 2014 Minutes – Draft)
  • To consider and adopt the Annual Accounts (to be tabled)
  • To receive the report from the Chair of CIPR Scotland Group followed by questions
  • Election of Office Bearers. Applications are invited for the position of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer via the cipr-scotland-agm-2015-committee-nominations-form (Word doc) before noon on Monday 16 March 2015
  • Election of new Committee Members (nominations invited as above)
  • Chair priorities for 2015/16
  • To consider any other business

Doors open at 6pm. The meeting will start promptly at 6.30pm. Following the AGM drinks and refreshments will be served. A full agenda and copy of the annual report will be made available here ahead of the meeting. Any apologies should be sent to

Our response to recommendations for Register of Lobbying in Scotland

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Scottish parliamentThe Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee of the Scottish Parliament has published a recommendation for a Register of Lobbying in Scotland. The Committee examined the question of transparency in lobbying after the Scottish Government announced in June 2013 that it intended to legislate. The Committee is recommending that the Government uses its proposals as a basis for that legislation.

View the Committee’s recommendations

“This is a clear recommendation and should be welcomed as such by Scotland’s public affairs and public relations industry. CIPR members, who are committed to transparency, will want to positively engage with any structures put in place that genuinely improve public understanding of lobbying. We are particularly pleased that the Committee has recommended that registering and updating the register should be free, which echoes the CIPR recommendation that the Westminster Register is free of charge for at least the first year, which would give the industry clarity on a key compliance issue.

“The recommendation that organisations should register if they undertake significant lobbying activity creates the possibility of a register that would offer the public a reasonable range of information on corporate interests seeking to influence public policy, although we would prefer there to be no discrimination between in-house and commercial (consultant) lobbyists. The proposal for a code of practice for lobbyists and for the MSPs code of conduct to updated are balanced and not unwelcome. Moving forward, as the Government responds to this recommendation and considers the shape of the legislation, we hope they will take every opportunity to positively engage with lobbyists who work in Scotland, to develop a regime that meets clear objectives for building public confidence in our democratic structures.

“Since it seems very likely that there will be two registers in the UK, with the Westminster Register of Consultant Lobbyists due to open in March, we hope the Scottish Government will take the compliance burden on small businesses and sole traders in the sector in to account as they put their proposals together.”

Grant Thoms MCIPR, Chair of the CIPR Public Affairs (Scotland) Group

Our Response to the Inquiry into Lobbying

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The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee held a debate on lobbying today in the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament. The purpose of this was to allow other MSPs who are not on the Committee to share their views on the lobbying inquiry.

What we have done

The CIPR has produced the following statement which was shared during today’s session:

“Scotland’s Parliament has an opportunity to demonstrate how politics can allow and encourage the free exchange of information to make better policy and law. It can do this by working with the entire lobbying profession to offer a process through which the public can access more information about their work with policy makers, whether that is through a register or better disclosure of Ministerial and MSP diaries. The debate about transparency in lobbying has given way to one which focuses on professional standards. Any proposals should support the voluntary structures which regulate lobbyists and promote lobbying as a professional community.”

You can read our full debate briefing here (opens as PDF)

What you can do

The CIPR is committed to helping shape the future of lobbying in Scotland through the ongoing deliberations of the Scottish Parliament, by giving honest, but positive feedback and suggestions.

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee want to hear from stakeholders before, during and after the debate and are engaging through social media:

Twitter: follow @ScotParl and tweet using the hashtags #SPlobbying and #CIPR

Facebook: the committee want to gain your views and will share them with MSPs on

Contact members of the SPPA Committee and share your views here

Get more involved in the CIPR – You can contact the CIPR Public Affairs in Scotland Group by emailing

Why Google Analytics Matters to PR

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Once upon a time, websites didn’t matter to PRs. We lived in an analogue world measured in cuts, opportunities to see and (shudder) Advertising Value Equivalents, some would say we still do.

Google Analytics Joe Walton blogpost

Thank goodness for digital. The ability to see how people interact with our communications efforts means we can get back to what we were meant to be doing: changing minds, behaviours and making a real difference.  Google analytics is your window into this world and here are three reasons why it is important.

Reason 1: Your future job

Analytics used to be locked into the web team. Increasingly PRs are expected to take responsibility for this information.

  • According to the CIPR State of the profession survey, 60 per cent of PR professionals have some responsibility for social and digital marketing. Google Analytics helps to track your efforts.
  • PR Academy’s qualification trends survey found the top three skills PR professionals are looking to improve are Digital, Measurement and Strategic Planning. Google Analytics can help with all three.

Google Analytics Blogpost Joe Walton sitting figures

  • Google Analytics can help you test your instincts and take the guess work out of decisions. An understanding of Google Analytics will unlock a serious amount of intelligence for you to draw upon.

Reason 2: More Intelligence

No matter which sector or what sort of organisation you work in you have to answer to somebody. We all do.  We need to demonstrate our success and Google Analytics can help.

  • You will need to show how your efforts are reaching people. Do you want to know if it was an email campaign, online advertising or your editorial wins that brought them to your site?  Google Analytics can show you where those visitors came from.
  • Measuring non-financial transactions can be difficult to quantify and track for an organisation. Not a problem for Google analytics and event tracking, measuring behavioural goals has never been easier.
  • Google analytics is used by 90 per cent of businesses (Econsultancy report 2013) – although not always exclusively – it is the analytics software of choice. This is likely because it is free, when everyone is using it does it seem strange communicators can’t?

Reason 3: Digital measurement is moving offline

Behind my flat is an amazing independent wine shop. Every time I walk into the shop (probably more times than I should) I present a key-fob and they collect the data on my purchases.

I have no idea what they do with this data but they have it from me and probably a couple of hundred others in the area.

The latest iterations of Google Analytics is called Universal Analytics. Why, because it can track offline as well online transactions. This small independent wine shop is in a good place to unlock the sort of in-depth information that only the largest or retailers could have got their hands on a few years ago.

  • Want to know if clicking an email newsletter results in an offline sale? You can now track the correlation between the two.
    Interested to see which days of the week are best for online and offline sales (do they differ) within customers who use both? Not a problem, this will be available in one place.
  • Do red and white drinkers buy drinks at different points during the evening? Yes, then should you rotate the tasting wines to up-sell a special offer throughout the day. The answer is available in analytics.
  • Thinking about a click-and-collect app and want to know which browser (and OS) offline customers use.  The answer is at your fingertips.

This is just a very quick example of the direction Google Analytics is moving in; the applications for all types of organisation – for internal and for external communications – is very exciting and only just being explored. The future of digital analytics is offline and this opens up even more opportunities for communicators to prove their worth.

If you would like to know about Analytics but find it all a bit baffling I will be speaking at a CIPR Scotland Social in the City event on the 8th October at the Newsroom in Edinburgh. In the meantime this four-minute clip may be of interest:


Joe Walton is an CIPR accredited PR Practitioner with a Google Analytics Individual Qualification and a love of statistics. He is a veteran speaker in the Social in the City series (and the founder). Say hello to him on Twitter (@babbleoftongues).

Photo credit: Vicky Brock via photopin cc.


10 principles of effective stakeholder relations

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Whether you work in-house, freelance or in an agency, here are my ten principles of effective stakeholder relations which I believe make for better practice and greater success. Some state the blinding obvious, others are more challenging.

Establish your mandate – be clear from the outset what it is you are being asked to engage stakeholders about and scope your engagement process accordingly

Engage appropriately – there are different levels of engagement with differing expectations from stakeholders based on what is the purpose of engagement. Whether it is to inform, involve or collaborate, each requires an approach that will achieve the desired outcome.

Give the right information – material information provides the basis for stakeholders and your organisation to make sound judgements about the things that matter to them, and take actions that influence the organisation’s performance. Duff information out, leads to duff intelligence back.

Keep your message consistent – informing stakeholders with a consistent message and the right information needs to be systematic and defensible. The minute one stakeholder hears from another, a different message or more material information than they were originally informed by you, could lead to conflict, distrust and a breakdown in relations.

Be open and balanced – providing balance in an organisation’s views is a challenge for many communicators moulded in the cast of only portraying their organisation in a ‘positive light’. One-sided sunny views doesn’t foster trust. Organisations need to respond to stakeholder issues that affect its performance and communicate their responses in a manner that meets the needs and expectations of its stakeholders so they can take informed decisions. If you disagree or dislike a response you have received, then articulate your views to mitigate or answer the issue.

Get your C-suite onboard – stakeholder engagement is a valuable tool for risk/opportunities management that can lead to the avoidance or minimisation of costs and the creation and optimisation of value. So why don’t chief executives and the senior management team always get it? Maybe because we fail to explain the value and effectiveness of stakeholder engagement. You are the voice of the organisation, an ambassador for your organisational leader who really needs not just to understand the value of your work but to back it 110%.

Better together – Organisations and their stakeholders recognise that today’s complex issues cannot be solved by any single actor. They require a coordinated effort with multiple stakeholders contributing to innovative and sustainable solutions. That’s the raison d’etre for stakeholder relations. The language of collaboration has to be meaningful as there are too many examples from politics of faux unity in the vain hope of success.

Project management is core – for many public relations practitioners, the focus of stakeholder relations is about what is said to whom, etc. However, a fundamental skill in managing multiple relationships within limited resources is your ability to project manage.

Mind your ethics – you are a professional, i.e. a member of a professional body with appropriate standards of conduct. Ensure you keep your ethical practice up to date and remind everyone you talk to just how much you regard professional standards (start with a line on your email signature about professional membership and your commitment to professional development).

Evaluate your stakeholder relations – at least annually, have you considered ways of evaluating your relationships with stakeholders? Whether quantitatively by survey or qualitatively by interview, use an independent researcher to provide you with assurance that you are doing your best or at least find out where you can improve. Of course, you feel that you do that all the time but not every stakeholder will express their views to the same standard as you.

At the end of the day, why is effective stakeholder relations important? Because it can offer awin-win goal for all.

If you are interested finding out about how to be more effective stakeholder relations, CIPR Scotland has a Freshly Brewed workshop which is an introduction to managing stakeholder relations and provides best practice advice on how to manage engagement with stakeholders in order to achieve organisational goals.

This event is being held in Aberdeen but if you would like to see it delivered nearer to you, contact the Organiser to register your interest and preferred location.

Freshly Brewed is a series of half-day training sessions that address a different PR theme each session. Each has been designed in response to feedback from the membership survey to reflect what our members want. Each session counts as 5 CPD points.