CIPR? It’s PRSA in London (International Public Relations Study Abroad Program, Winter 2017 )

CIPR Mason students

CIPR International recently hosted a group of U.S. students from George Mason University who visited  London studying international public relations.  Immediate past chair Eva Maclaine of CIPR International and principal of Maclaine Communications and Digitalis’ Beatrice Giribaldi provided an overview of the challenges of managing PR in a global, intercultural environment.  The students went on to meet with Edelman, Ketchum, H+K Strategies, Ogilvy and other organisations on their 16-day immersion in communication practices.  Here’s what Cyrenna Cooper from George Mason University wrote in her journal about the CIPR session.

Following our visit with Bell Pottinger, we visited the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) at their offices in Russell Square.  We met with CIPR International’s immediate past chair, Eva Maclaine, and Beatrice Giribaldi, group secretary of CIPR International. According to Giribaldi, CIPR has been an opportunity of continuous professional development. She’s enjoyed the chance to work with other PR practitioners, while acquiring leadership and teamwork skills.

Beatrice Giribaldi joined Eva Maclaine at CIPR headquarters to present an introduction to international public relations for U.S. students from George Mason University

Maclaine, an accomplished PR professional, presented “Communicating Globally.” One of her messages that I thought was important was what is needed to succeed. This acronym is called Rosie…

Rosie w bckgrnd2(1)

  • R-research
  • O-objectives
  • S- strategy
  • I- implementation
  • E-evaluation

According to Maclaine, in order to be successful in communicating globally one must have:

  • social media with strategic purpose
  • cross-cultural competencies
  • ability to manage high volumes of information
  • an understanding of management
  • business qualifications

While it is important to have all forms of communication in PR, it is even more significant to choose your channels wisely, according to your audience. Eva, for example, worked with a smaller country (Samoa) to inform them about new water costs. She would not communicate this information to them through social media, but in person. While there are a numerous steps to achieving success in global communication, there are multiple reasons for failure. Some common reasons for failure in global communication are:

  • arrogance
  • ignorance
  • stubbornness
  • lack of local alliances

From our CIPR visit my takeaways on global communication were

  • to be curious
  • don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • learn a language
  • choose your channels wisely
  • avoid the pitfalls
  • have cultural intelligence
  • most importantly…research, research, research!

Final thoughts:   Reflecting back, the 16 days spent in London have been some of the best days of my life.  I will always remember these tidbits of knowledge that were spoken to us at the PR agency meetings as well as Northrop Grumman, Selfridges and Wimbledon. I will cherish these notes in my portfolio and apply to as many internships as I can. What I found most helpful was listening to those at agencies who have gone through their grad-scheme programs. I am now focused and determined on what I want to do after college. So here’s to researching, getting experience, and putting myself out there.

Note from Eva Maclaine, CIPR International: Well done Cyrenna. Glad you enjoyed your time in London and that your meetings have given you added energy to pursuing your life in PR. Good luck!

Ketchum’s Stephen Waddington welcomed George Mason University students before their session with Ketchum CEO Denise Kauffman. The students were in town for a two week study abroad program in international public relations.


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Strengthening ties abroad: lessons from Oman

Jason MacKenzie, president of the CIPR, communications consultant and strategist, guest blogs for CIPR International on the highlights of his recent trip to Oman. 

Building ties internationally is a business imperative for the CIPR.

Last month I had the privilege of addressing almost 100 PR practitioners in Muscat, Oman, along with Dr Kevin Ruck and Ann Pilkington from the PR Academy. We led an interactive two-day session on internal communications, crisis management and the contemporary public relations arena.

Jason MacKenzie in Oman

Oman is a relatively small country, with a population of just over three and a half million. But the mindset of the PR practitioners is global. The first thing that struck me about those in attendance was their thirst for knowledge. Their desire to understand new ideas and learn how to put them into practice was inspiring.

In the session on modern PR, Ann Pilkington from PR Academy discussed content creation and curation. The concept of content curation was new to many of the delegates. Although a couple of attendees ran their own personal blogs, few were thinking about it from an organisational perspective. Native advertising was also a new concept for our delegates. In the crisis session, we looked at apologies, with case studies from Thomas Cook and Alton Towers prompting discussion. Few in the room had been in the position of having to manage a crisis but it was clearly a topic that was high on the agenda.

The enthusiasm for knowledge meant that the introduction to CIPR CPD was warmly received. Similarly, Dr Ruck’s presentation on employee engagement and internal communication went down well.

However, the learning wasn’t all one-way. We learnt that PR practitioners in Oman are tech-savvy. Mobile is widely used and the majority of those in attendance used Yammer in their organisations (despite experiencing similar issues to UK practitioners in driving organisation-wide adoption). Indeed, many of the challenges facing practitioners in Oman are similar to those in the UK and in countries where PR is perhaps more developed. In some ways, they have an advantage over us because PR and communication is a relatively new function. As a practice, it’s cultivating and establishing itself in a digital era and so is perfectly placed to meet today’s communication challenges.

Meeting colleagues around the world is a reminder that we are part of a global PR community. Even in countries with completely different cultures, we share common challenges and opportunities.

Later this month, I’ll be heading to Munich for the European Communications Convention, for which the CIPR has been named Official Partner. I’ll be discussing Brexit and its impact on PR, along with CIPR Chief Executive, Alastair McCapra. Following Britain’s vote to leave the EU, it’s never been more important for us to collaborate and connect with colleagues around the world.


About Oman

Capital: Muscat

Population: 3.5 million

Language: Arabic

Religion: Islam


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Throwing stones at hyenas

The ethics of PR in developing markets


I run Grayling’s office in Nairobi.  We are a PR consultancy working for a mix of multinational firms and local Kenyan organisations operating throughout sub-Saharan Africa, so I can only give a view on the ethics of working in these markets.

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Working in the Middle East

Due to the multi-cultural nature of the region, the importance of international trade and the significant difference in education levels – many of the ethical issues presented in the CIPR Code of Conduct can be closely linked to local laws. In fact if you are in breach of one, in some cases you are almost certainly in breach of the other…


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Brown-envelope journalism and the practice of paying for column inches

I’ve just set my alarm for the third and final US presidential debate. I can’t wait.

Being based in the UK, this does mean waking up at 2am and losing an hour and a half of sleep on a school night but having gone through this process for the first two debates, I know it’s worth it. It’s easily some of the best television I’ve ever watched.

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