27 June, 2006

CIPR Northern Conference

It seems that some people were listening when I posted about the CIPR Northern Conference and other PR events seemingly shunning students and young PR personnel with their ridiculously high prices.

Within a few days I had received an email from Andrew and Nicky of Don't Panic, offering me the chance to attend the conference for free, which I though as very interesting. Of course I took them up straight away and will therefore be attending on the 6th. So big thank yous to them.

I am really looking forward to going. I do, of course, have to earn my ticket to a certain extent through working the reception a bit and shuffling various delegates about. But I get to attend all the keynote speeches and three workshops. So if you are attending I shall see you there.

I wonder whether they will be extending similar offers to other students? I reckon that if they really want some good publicity they should offer a free spot to one or two students that ask every time.

Or maybe even have a student conference?

Hmm ... I feel an idea or two coming on...

Email me if you are interested in the idea of a student and Fledgling PR conference.


Paull Young said...

Alex - good on you for bringing this up.

I've posted over at my blog about the barriers to entry to professional associations put in place by high costs.

Professional associations and events need to understand that people in junior PR positions don't have much disposable income.

They need to take that into account in order to encourage new blood to join their organisations and attend their events.

Stephen said...

It's alright for some! ;-)

Who said PR isn't about who you know and blagging freebies?!

Alex Pullin said...

Ha Ha Ha! Stephen, we can't all be easy breezy beautiful cover girls! and how did that placement with Lewis work out? ;-)

I hope everyone knows that just because they have helped me with this opportunity this will not guarantee positive or negative reviews on this blog of the conference. But I will faithfully recount my experiences there, be they good or bad.

I did toy with the idea of not mentioning it but I am trying to boost support for more student discounts and breaks. If me getting this break can help persuade that student freebies from the CIPR to PR students and other fledgling PR people are achievable then why not?

David Phillips said...

OK, so why can't there be a student conference... How soon do you want to organise it?

Or, perhaps pioneer and put some of it online to leave more time for networking.

Here is are some experimental blog based lectures (the ePR one has podcasts as well).

Wakey said...


We’re pleased to have you on board and looking forward to meeting you next week.

As you know, our company Don’t Panic is event managing the Northern Conference on behalf of the CIPR and therefore I can’t really speak for them however I think the pricing of the event does need some explaining.

As Simon Collister rightly said, £185 (£145 for CIPR members) plus vat is actually a bargain for what’s on offer particularly when compared to the price of similar events offered by other organisations.

The CIPR have put together an extremely strong speaker and workshop lineup and have also ensured the ticket price is genuinely competitive. This has been reflected in the record number of delegates who will be attending this year’s event and generally, the entry cost for those attending is usually met by employers who see conferences such as this as excellent learning opportunities.

That’s not to say your point on the entry price being prohibitive to students isn’t valid as I think its people like yourself who are the future of organisations such as the CIPR and perhaps more thought should be given to how they encourage the next generation of members.

I do think it needs to be said that the Northern Conference has never been about making money. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the profession and share ideas and learning for the benefit of public relations but obviously it does have to cover its’ costs.

I’m not going to give a full financial breakdown but organising an event of this nature incurs a great deal of expense including venue hire, stage, light and sound equipment / technicians, speaker expenses such as travel and accommodation, catering throughout the day etc as well as the time and effort of many people behind the scenes.

Our job is to ensure this all runs seamlessly and no doubt you’ll get a crash course in event management when you help us out!

I think you’re idea of a student conference is great and would urge you to petition the powers that be at the CIPR to make this happen. Perhaps you’ll get that chance next week…

As for your intention to blog about the Northern Conference, we’ll look forward to reading your perspective on the event and the fact that you’ll be working your ticket is certainly not intended to influence your views or opinions in any way. We’ll just value you as an extra pair of hands.

One thing in your post I do want to take issue with is when you said “I wonder whether they will be extending similar offers to other students? I reckon that if they really want some good publicity they should offer a free spot to one or two students that ask every time.”

A while back Simon Collister suggested you contacted us to see if you could help out in return for a free place but neither you or anyone else actually approached us. We’re always keen for some extra help but if people don’t chance their arm and ask we can’t read minds! Thankfully I was aware of your posts and in the end I contacted you because I appreciated your point and sympathised with your predicament.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well and I’m happy we could help you out. As for any of your student colleagues who would like to attend the conference, we’re now seeking clearance to offer a few places at cost price. Anyone interested should drop me a line, quickly!

Andrew Wake
Don't Panic


Alex Pullin said...

Andrew, thank you again for giving me the opportunity to attend next week, and please don't think for a minute that I am not really excited to be going.

I appreciate that venue hire etc is expensive and that the CIPR has to cover its costs.

I am also very happy to hear that you can offer some tickets at cost price to students who contact you. I hope that many do. I didn't because I was concerned that I would not be in Leeds for the event itself (as it is I am traveling up from London to attend).

The line you were worried about I was actually wondering whether the CIPR couldn't send out a couple of free/working tickets to a couple of the students that apply for every one of their events? A kind of competition perhaps.

Anyway, thank you again and I am very much looking forward to meeting you and Nicky next week.

Wakey said...


no worries. I think we're as excited as you are, it's going to be a great day.

Good news is that CIPR have now approved 10 student places at £25 on a first come first served basis so anyone interested needs to e-mail us or give us a call on 01706 828855.

Who said protest was futile?!

I'll e-mail you some stuff on the conference at the end of the week,


Don't Panic

Bookworm said...

Wow, great news!! Wonder if the CIPR will be doing the same for the National conference?

Chloe said...

Brilliant! You've allowed all of the young PR students and professionals who aren't at the top of the money chain the chance to attend PR conferences.

It seems like you've turned things round for us Alex!

Well done! I hope you are aware of what an achievment this is. You should be very proud of yourself.

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