One year of volunteering with CIPR

Similar to a lot of people at a certain point in time I found myself thinking about my next step in personal/professional development.

The usual courses, conferences and stretch opportunities had been done so I started looking around for opportunities to expand my skills and experiences in different ways.

I’d been a CIPR member for a few years, been aware of and benefited from the events and support sector and regional groups offer. I was impressed by the challenging role volunteers in these groups took on, in particular the way they created support for other PR professionals.

Before I go on, a quick reminder of what CIPR is and the role it’s volunteer groups play. CIPR is a membership body, committed to raising professional standards in public relations and supporting the profession in their continued professional development. Much of this work is delivered by 28 volunteer led groups, representing different geographical areas, professional sectors or special interest areas. Each delivering a programme of activity to meet the needs of professionals in their area.

The challenge and opportunity to support CIPR’s work really appealed, meeting areas of my development I wanted to focus on and most importantly giving back to the profession. So I started to look at opportunities to volunteer in this area and was lucky that an opportunity to join the health committee was available.

Now, after 12 months of volunteering on the committee, and in the spirit of encouraging others to take similar opportunities I wanted to share some thoughts on what was included and the benefits it’s brought.

What a year on the committee included

The first and in many ways most important place to start is that working on a group committee is about working in partnership with other like minded professionals. One of the things I’ve valued most about my time doing this role is the links and relationships built with other committee members who work across the breadth of the health sector.

A key part of what the committee try to do is understand the key issues facing PR professionals working in health. Thinking about the strategic challenges we face, how colleagues could be supported to meet them and the opportunities for developing this area of the profession.

Having developed this view we worked together to develop an offer for members and other PR professionals in the sector. In particular a series of events exploring key topics and issues, hearing from experts in particular areas. And a series of podcasts exploring career journeys of senior practitioners.

Delivering this programme of activity across a year became the core work of the committee. Working in pairs or small groups to deliver parts of the overall programme, and supporting others with feedback and thoughts to develop their events/podcasts. As well as supporting wider CIPR initiatives, such as supporting better mental health across the profession.

With regular meetings, communication and real sense of working in partnership, so we all felt supported and able to deliver this work. In addition, beyond this general programme of work, individual committee members took on specific roles. Including chair, secretary, treasurer, newsletter and social media leads, giving opportunities to develop skills in these areas.

What I gained

After a year volunteering on the committee and looking back, I’ve definitely developed in key areas because of this role.

Firstly my professional network has expanded, with colleagues who work in house in both the private and public sectors, in the agency world and freelance. I’ve gained really important perspectives and learning from conversations with these colleagues, and hope to continue to do so in the future.

And through these conversations and engaging with colleagues across the profession through our series of events I’ve gained greater insight into the challenges and experiences of working in PR in the health sector and best practice from across PR disciplines.

But above all I’ve benefited from being part of work with others that is driven by a positive purpose, to support colleagues and enable them to deliver better work. Most of us would recognise that we work best and find it most fulfilling when we have this sense of purpose, this role was no different.

Looking forward, I’m enthusiastic about continuing to volunteer on the committee. Working with old colleagues and new. I would encourage any other CIPR members who are thinking about their development to consider volunteering their time, you’ll definitely benefit and you’ll benefit others.

Interested in volunteering?

We’re looking for new volunteers to join our health committee. If you’re a CIPR member and work in the health sector you could join us. If this is something you’d be interested in you can contact our chair Sarah Roberts, or if you’d like more information on the role feel free to get in touch with me.


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