An interesting effort by the Canadian Public Relations Association has just begun. In an early post of this blog I wrote of another action undertaken by the Italian PR Association (FERPI) to ensure that increasing public spending on public relations be carefully monitored. In yet another we commented the media take up and the CIPR’s quick response to a report which indicated a similar increase of spent in the UK….it seems as if professional associations are beginning to realize that the public relations profession is not, as they once seemed to think, only a matter concerning the private sector and agencies/consultants…read the following message I have just received from Judy Gombita…
Ottawa considers changes to PR procurement
Canada’s public relations industry is demanding the federal government revise its procurement system for public relations services and establish something similar to the system now in place for the advertising industry in the post-Gomery era.
The Canadian Public Relations Society, which has established a task force on government relations, briefed Public Works and Government Services Minister Michael Fortier on the issue in the spring, says task force chair Luc Beauregard, who is also CEO and chair of Montreal-based National Public Relations. The PR industry is seeking a transparent and fair process in the selection of PR firms and an end to a bidding system in which “you’ve got to reinvent the wheel every time there’s an RFP.”
Currently, the federal government has no central authority over the awarding or policing of PR contracts, with Public Works having no say over how government agencies and Crown corporations handle their PR procurement.
“I must say the industry is very suspect and very critical about the fairness of the awarding of contracts in the public relations industry,” Beauregard told Marketing. For example, National–which for years has been Canada’s largest PR firm–has received little PR work in its 30 years in business and Beauregard says it has not been unusual for contracts to go to fronts for governing parties.
“We’ve been asked to bid on contracts where the number of bidders included one guy on the third floor of a flat in St. Léonard (a suburb of Montreal). You’ve got the legitimate firms and all of a sudden Mr. X. At the end of the process, surprise, surprise, this Mr. X you’ve never heard of wins the business. It’s not been uncommon.”
When the Progressive Conservatives were in power in the 1980s, National was told it couldn’t get any government work because it was a Liberal firm, whereas when the Liberals were in power it was told it was a Conservative firm.
Beauregard says Fortier “has been responsive to what we say and we hope that he will come forward for us because (changes are) way overdue.”
As part of the Federal Accountability Act, Fortier said in May that PR would be separated from advertising RFPs–seen as a positive sign by Beauregard–and that a procurement auditor would be hired to scrutinize how advertising contracts are decided by government departments and Crown corporations. “We’re further ahead on this than we’ve ever been before,” says Beauregard.
The Public Works department confirmed it has been holding consultations with a number of industry associations and suppliers before proceeding further with procurement reform.
as appeared today (October 17) in http://www.marketingmag.ca