Here comes the Islamic Confederation of Public Relations. In the Global Alliance?

The very recent formation of a confederation of public relations associations of Islamic Countries is a good reminder of the role of a professional association.

If we estimate some 3 million public relations professionals active in the world today and we sum all the member numbers indicated by all sorts of professional associations (national, international, regional and practice specific) we will notice that not more than 10% of public relations professionals belong to any professional association.
This carries with it at least two immediate implications:

a) associations in general are not considered particularly attractive by their potential members;

b) potential members, at least in part, are not aware of being such, and either do not consider themselves as public relations professionals, or do not consider public relations as a profession to the point of deciding to belong to a professional association.

When it became operative in 2002, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management ( had these variables very much in mind, and has since succeeded in convincing some 63 associations from as many countries based in all Continents and representing some 160 thousand members in joining.

However, as much as it is impossible to run an associative entity with practically no funds, very little operative support from members and allowing totally discretionary decision making processes to a handful of visionaries who find the time to care, just these very specific attributes express, following four years of practical experience, the limited impact of such an effort.

As always, the glass can be seen as half empty or half full, and the real risk of taking the half empty view is to encourage those cliques inside associations who do not really see the point of a global organization dedicated to improving the quality of services by benchmarking and exchanging experiences, and are much more concerned about nitty gritty local issues. On the other hand the real risk of taking a half full perspective is to reinforce the typical conservativism of that handful of volunteers who run the Alliance and who, inevitably by age, experience and cultural diversity, are not necessarily all attuned to the true dynamics of the profession. On the other hand, if the associations these individuals represent in the Alliance where attuned to the dynamics of the profession their membership numbers would be much higher than they are. So why complain?

One example is Italy: Ferpi the national association as 1000 members out of a 90 thousand estimated professional population. There are also other associations in Italy (public sector, internal communication, political communication, investor relators…) but the total membership in this country does not exceed 6000, substantially less than that 10% I mentioned before.

I complain because, being amongst those handful of visionaries who find the time to care, I would be much more encouraged by members criticizing what we do, how we do it, why we do it and dictating their priorities rather than that typical and nervebreaking benign neglect or politically correct attitude saying ‘fine, you are doing just fine, keep it up…we don’t notice, but keep it up anyway, one day it will be worth it’. O shit! For example, admitting they asked to become members, should we or should we not accept member associations from Cuba, the Republic of China or the newly formed Confederation of Islamic Public Relations Associations which happens to be headquartered in Iran? Personally I believe we should. Others do not agree. Your opinion?


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16 Replies to “Here comes the Islamic Confederation of Public Relations. In the Global Alliance?

  1. Hamdan,
    maybe you could send me an english laguage draft of the proposed act so that I may better understand.

    I am curious to understand what you mean by the recognition of the profession.
    Do you intend that the State (or whatever public/private body enabled by the State) allow practitioners to say that public relations is what they do?
    If so, you will have to include in the act a definition of public relations.
    Have you seen the most recent and updated formal definition approved by our canadian colleagues?

    Now, you also say that your objective is to ‘promote professionalism and integrity amongts practitioners’.
    If I may, it seems to me that this should be the role of a professional association, while the role of the State should be more to make sure that the practice of public relations does not impact negatively on the public interest as often happens today in every country…
    I have difficulties in imagining that a State should intervene to protect a professional association from potential abuses of other professionals who practice public relations but are not members of the association.
    I cannot see why this should be the role of the State.
    For example, the our German colleagues have underatken an interesting experience which you can investigate here
    and which has since been followed, at least in their stated intentions by our austrian and italian colleagues.

    Let me just add, for the moment at least, that -in my view- the intervention of a State in regulating a profession is justified only when there is the risk that by not doing so the public interest is at stake.
    Recently I presented a paper also related to this issue at the University of Louvanie which you may read in english here (please open the english version of my presentation).

    I hope this helps,

  2. Dear Toni,

    Actually, it is my organization that is pursuing it. We drafted it. Now, we have given it to the person who has been assigned to study it and to have the Ministry legal officer look at it from the point of law. The lady in-charge of is one of our member and former Councilor. I would love to seek your views despite not having a chance to look at ours. We might want to modify it so that its updated or current. It is suppose to facilitate the growth and integrity of our profession and not to suppress or over regulate.


    Dear Toni,
    Actually it my organization that has been asking for the Public Relations Professional Act. We have asking for it since a decade ago. The rationale being that it would be in line with the other recognize profession and promote professionalism and integrity among practitioners. More so because everybody can claim to be a public relations practitioner without any relevant qualifications or experiences. We have already submitted our draft. The person in the government overseeing it is our member and former council member. She is very supportive of our effort. As such the Minister is leaving it to IPRM to come out with the draft which will be tabled to his Cabinet. This Minister has a doctoral in law from UK. So we feel he will be best person to push it to his colleagues. Nevertheless, we would be grateful to have your views despite not seeing our draft. It would us to make it current as well to better facilitate the growth and integrity of the profession instead of curtailing it.

    Thanks. Hamdan

  3. This issue has been often referred to in various posts.
    You can at least look at these:

    In any case the argument you pose is very timely.
    As you might know there are at least 6 countries (brasil, nigeria, panama, perù, venezuela and puerto rico) who have done this in different times and for different reasons.
    Other countries like Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and at the EU level are discussing, thinking, making motions…
    Also you mght be interested in reading the paper written back in 2003 for the Global Alliance
    which showed that while professional associations in most countries generally resist any form of regulation of the profession, they in turn do very little against the sweeping and increasing number of regulations concerning the specific practices of pr (political, financial, public affairs, food, health, safety..).

    Could you give us an idea of what is behind your Minister’s mind? Of the underlying reasons he would like to regulate?

    I have changed my mind on this issue over time and I am in principle favourable.
    If you wish to continue this discussion I will give you a number of reasons which have made me change my opinion…

  4. Dear Toni,
    When people are not ready to open dialogue it is better to let sleeping dogs lay and not wake them up, in case it becomes like pocking a hornet nest. I am more interested to find ways and means to make my organization plays its role in promoting the profession. What I like to know is how PR professionals in other nations feel about the profession being regulated by a law like the other professions to enhance its acceptance and reputation. Of course the subject is very debatable or even controversial. In Malaysia we finally have a Minister who is willing to do it.

  5. Hamdan,
    I intepreted the last seven lines of your last message as an draft attempt to open a discussion on religion and public relations along my preceding invitation to submit a guest post.
    If I have misunderstood please clarify.

    In any case, I consulted my co-bloggers to verify if there was interest on their part to open a discussion on the issue, but I am happy to report that -although we all have very different opinions and diverse attitudes to the role of religion in society- none of us have any specific or pressing interest in developing this theme in relations to public relations thinking or practice.
    Which is certainly not to say we would not of course welcome your (or others’?) considerations and submission for a ‘guest post’.
    But not in six lines (nor in 100…).

  6. Dear Toni,
    Sorry for the silence. Was busy trying to get the relevant Minister to come and present our memorial talk, give three of our very senior members our Fellow award, three of our late senior members their memorial awards of which their families or representatives to receive, three new accredited members receive their certificates and the launching of two of my books in the national language with regard to government and political public relations. During the event the Minister fully supported our effort to have a Public Relations Act to enhance the profession. We hope to have a Public Relations Act by the mid of 2010. It was a long passage. I have tried to have it much earlier when I was the President before Shameen. As usual there were some protest.
    With regard to dialogue on religion, it would be good to have it. Religions are suppose to make the world a better place. Some might not believe in religion and god and that is their rights. The most essential thing is we are all friends and try to make this world a better place. In any religion, since the dawn of humans there will always be followers who want to exploit it to achieve their own selfish means. I feel that our profession can be among the best profession to promote goodwill and understanding across the religious divide.


  7. Hamdan,
    frankly I have not inquired anyone about you…..

    Yet what you write is stimulating and worth discussing.

    Maybe you would like to ‘open’ the discussion on public relations and religion with a ‘guest post’ here on prconversations.
    If so please send me a maximum of twenty lines so that I may post it on your behalf.

    Let me tell you about myself, from this perspective of course. I am not religious (although I have, as 90% of Italians, been baptised), yet I teach public relations in Rome at a University of the Vatican (LUMSA).
    No one in the University has ever asked me if I was a catholic, and when other do I reply that I am an atheist…

    In principle therefore I am not particularly eager for public relations professionals to belong to religiously based professional organization (having been one of the founders of the global alliance. you may imagine that for me even a national perspective is doubtful, as I believe that today, in this world, public relations approach and/or practice is either global or is not.

    But this is my personal opinion and certainly many of my cobloggers and visitors have different and intersting views.

    So, please send me your post at my email ( and I will be happy to upload it.

  8. Dear Toni,
    I am told by Shameen that you have communicated with her asking about me. I suppose she has the right to say what she thinks of me. She actually took over from me. Than, it was given back to me by the members. I am really not interested to hold any post in IPRM but members wish prevail. Before being the President I have hold a number of positions in IPRM, including the Honarary Secretary.

    One of the members wrote she is very proud of being of Westerner and do not like what the Muslim world is doing. I am from the East and a Muslim. The arrogant attitude of Westerners did not augur well for any effective of communication. You can say many things but if we do not start on the premise of looking positively at each other and trying to understand why such negative attitude and conditions prevail we will not get anywhere.

    I propose the Muslim Public Relations Association because I feel the professionals Muslims should make an effort to show that our religion teach peace and understanding. Of course as in any religion they are good and bad practitioners. Surely the other religions are not as maligned by western scholars as Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. One of the result of a very bad act it seems that more people are trying to understand Islam. Strangely, it end up that more people are becoming Muslims than any other religion, Catholic included.

    However, I suppose in this rapidly globalising world the need to understand each other better is essential if people of the world wants to live in peace in harmony. For that I have propose for the formation of the Muslims Public Relations Association. I suppose the many different Christian groups are also having their own public relations practice and they should be encourage to members of GA. So do the world religion. Maybe we should have a conference on religions and public relations.

    Well, those are some of my thoughts. For your information I am a retired professor. Due to my being very articulate I was not giving a day of contract by my university. To say that I am a bad professor. I have written more than 20 books in consumerism, public relations and human rights. One of my public relations books was translated into Indonesian and one into Iranian. I was also the first Commissioner of Malaysia National Human Rights Commission and chairs its complaints and investigation working committee for four years. Also, I was the President of the National Consumers Association for 15 years.

    In many nations, including some Islamic countries, freedom of speech and information is something the public must fight for, especially the professional bodies and the NGOs. So PR institutions in certain do have massive problems with basic rights to communication. Instead of condemning the organizations in such countries we should condemn the governments. I suppose GA can help with such matters while being understanding of organizations having to operate under such environments.

    Good luck. Keep up with your good work.


  9. just received from John Paluszek:


    All of your commentators will be interested to know that as of July 1st The Global Alliance has “pushed the refresh button” in many ways, especially in readiness to reach out and dialogue with all public relations colleagues/organizations around the world via our “Correspondents” effort.
    For example, we have recently had constructive dialogue with the Iranian PR Assn and in recent past sent a communique to the Islamic Foundation.
    Although Global Alliance policy requires that members adhere to the international ethics protocol on freedom of speech, media and assembly etc., we nevertheless want to have two-way communication with other groups as well.

    The Asia-Pacific region is of great importance to the GA, a part of the world where we must strengthen bonds. Our efforts there are being coordinated by our enthusiastic Board member Shameem. We are available for discussion by e-mail at any time.

    John Paluszek,
    Chair, Global Alliance 2009-2011

  10. Hamdan,
    you say ‘I was too busy trying to make IPRM more active and meaningful for the professionals’…

    May I take this statement to express a concern I have been having with professional associations in our common area of interest?

    If it is true that public relations practice today is either global or not (please see this post, and specifically at the enclosed draft of a a new paper I have been working on for some time now), I am worried that professional associations do so little to engage and involve their members on issues which are not only local.

    As you probably know many of the more established associations around the world are today encountering challenign difficulties in making their presence significant and ‘meaningful’ for their members.
    Some are losing members, others are in financial difficulties and almost all are revising their business models.

    If I take, for example, my own association the Italian Ferpi, I am convinced that its global policy (i.e. involving members in global conversation, exchanges,meetings and networking) has been very beneficial for all members, even those who do not actively participate or who don’t even speak english.

    Many themes and issues have been circulating amongst our members thanks to our active participation to the global alliance network.

    Based also on this direct experience I am convinced that the major benefit an association may give to its members to be more ‘active and meaningful’ is focussed on a global approach and to the relationships each member may have with the global alliance.

    hoping to see you soon,

  11. Dear Tony,
    Call me Hamdan like in Harmdone. Thanks for the information. I just got the Jakarta meeting program today. So I have to think of a way to attend it. Actually, I have been the President of IPRM for the past two years and coming to my third year. I supposse it is my fault. I was too busy trying to make IPRM more active and meaningful for the professionals.

    Again thank you.

  12. Dear Mohd,
    It could be that the global alliance has not been informed that you succeeded Shameem and that therefore the information related to the Vancouver Conference was sent to her. In any case you can find all the necessary info (and more) on the global alliance website which is
    I am sure that our friends from the ga will contact you soon.
    About Shameem’s effort to revive Fapro I am sure you are all aware of the upcoming event in Djakarta in early february (if not you may refer again to the ga website), and I hope that this may be an occasion to move forward on the idea.
    Thank you and hoping to see you soon,

  13. Dear Toni,
    I still do not know the outcome of your Vancover meeting. Shameen my predecessor told me that you have elected her on the Council. I am happy and proud. After all she was my student. I have ask the IPRM treasurer to pay the subscription and maintain the membership with GA. Also, I am told by Shameen that she would like to work with GA for her effort to revive the Federation of Asean Public Relations Organisation (FAPRO). I hope it can be done.

    Actually, I propose for the formation of the Council of Muslim Public Relations Practitioners or whatever an appropriate name maybe when I was attending a PR seminar in Iran. I do not know if there are follow ups by the Iranian. They have requested me to do it from Malaysia being fully aware of Iran’s image in the Western World.

    Kept up the good work. Thanks

  14. Dear Toni,

    I feel as Public Relations Professional we should have an open mind. We should do our research before we conclude or make decision. It’s always better to have as many members as possible. Even, if an organization originate from Iran it does not automatically means it’s bad. We should communicate with them and see what is their objectives. If its similar to Global Alliance than you should communicate with all those wanting to be our friends. Let’s not forget that more than 1.5 billion human beings are Muslims.

    Mohd Hamdan Adnan,
    President, Institute Public Relations Malaysia

  15. Dear Toni,
    Confederation of Islamic Public Relations interests me a lot. I think we should let them in, but under what terms and conditions in view of the present scenario ? Pls circulate further info on the mission and purposes of this Confederation and their members. Maybe it could be a way to get closer views and real approach on what the islamic world is wishing to achieve. Maybe just for one Public Relations could be , at least from my personal view point, an inroad to some sort of understanting between the western world and the eastern world. I am profoundly proud of being a westernenr and instinctivly hate the the way the islamic world is doing and the way the western world gives in and surrenders.
    In any case , an interesting subject.
    Donatella Lanzeni

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