Why should you become a member of the Hungarian Public Relations Association (HUPRA)? Where did the leading organization in the PR profession come from and in what direction is it developing? We asked András Sztaniszláv about his plans for the next two years. He was re-elected as President of the PR Association for another two years at the renewal General Assembly in November.
I sincerely hope that this is less and less possible in the Hungarian market, although it can easily happen internationally. If I had to point out something interesting and specific about the HUPRA, it would be the composition of its membership. If you look around the world, professional organizations tend to have one type of member: either agencies or companies or individual members. For example, the CIPR in the UK market has individual members and the PRCA tends to represent agencies. But we have all types of members, which is unique internationally. The fact that we have all three types of members basically strengthens our advocacy capacity, but sometimes it creates situations with conflict of interest. For example, on the issue of tendering processes, the interests of agencies and the clients may differ, and in other situations freelance members and agencies may be on opposite platforms. Another important feature of our work, especially recently, is that we are trying to open up to the wider profession rather than taking a kind of elitist approach. We are trying to move from being an exclusive organisation to a much more inclusive one.
Above all, it is important to remember that the more members of a particular type we have, the clearer it is what that type of member wants, what is important to them, what their interests are – and the more effectively they can be represented.
At the moment, the agency side is the strongest in HUPRA. It is easy to cite advantages here. We organize regular meetings for agency heads in the spirit of horizontal dialogue. We hope to take this initiative to an even more effective level in the coming years. Agency members receive discounts on entry fees for national and international professional competitions. Finally, we have launched the professional accreditation of agencies in Hungary (based on ICCO’s CMS system), which is a very exciting development and there is already an ongoing evaluation. In addition to these, there are the professional barometer-like projects, which can also be useful for agencies. These include the ICCO World PR Report, or participation in the ’Communication Cake’ (annual report on the size of the communication agency market) in Hungary, organized by the Hungarian Advertising Association. I would very much like the Association to create our own agency ranking, which could also be an important service and feedback for the agency side. Hungarian PR Excellence Award (PREXA) seems to be more of an agency competition, and NextGenPR for young professionals has been more agency driven so far – e.g. this year all competing teams came from agencies.
Unfortunately, we gave little to individual members previously. One thing needs to be made clear here. Our individual members are not necessarily and exclusively freelancers. There is often a situation where a professional from a large company or agency joins as an individual member for whatever reason. This could be for any number of reasons, ranging from simple financial issues to company rules prohibiting corporate level professional memberships.
I think the main value for individual members in the future may be the introduction of individual professional development program. Something like the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme of CIPR. Alternatively, trainings could be organized on a grass roots need basis – but for this it is important that members self-organize.
The third type of HUPRA members are corporate members. Again, this area is quite heterogeneous, because communication is in different places in the structure within different organizations. In many cases the professionals (mainly comms leaders, CCOs) who join us have different responsibilities. Some have marketing and PR combined, and some have communications as a separate function. We currently have several corporate professionals on the board, so we can gather direct insights from them on issues and needs that are important to our corporate members. Personally, I think that the area of training courses will be one of the important directions for this type of members. And finally, professional dialogue could be important, for example about pitches, the corporate side is also strongly involved. Another important topic could be the role of communication in the Board Room. I could put it this way: how can we get the values created by communication accepted by the C-level managers. This is an important topic for the upcoming Board term, and we have work to do here. We need to find a platform, a format, where all stakeholders can participate and learn from each other.
I would like to divide it into two: personal goals and goals that we set together with the Board.
For me, the priority is to continue recruiting members so that we can represent an even larger part of the profession. It would be good to implement more professional development programmes that the industry is really interested in (ie: pitches, training for the next generation). And it would also be good if something happened in these beyond just outlining the problems. A step that should be taken more boldly is to start developing professional rankings and lists: whether for young professionals, agencies, or top senior professionals. We are still at the very beginning of this, and I honestly do not know what it will eventually lead to.
As far as organizational development is concerned, my program has emphasized the need to implement CRM system to improve internal communication within our membership and to strengthen the links among members. My programme also included organizing a professional conference or event. I am not entirely sure whether this will fit into the two-year cycle, but I am ambitious to say that it will.
All that said, in the coming weeks/months the Board will set out our a programme, but it seems that the strategic role of PR and training is where most of the expectations and the Board’s thoughts and intentions are coming from. I would really like to see more board members actively involved in this term. Knowing the members of the Board, there is every chance of that.
Personally, I hope that I/we can be more involved in international relations. The fact that the ICCO has a Polish president and I have become treasurer is a good boost – it means that the CEE region has a strong role within the ICCO, and we can now build on that. Closer cooperation should be developed with Polish, Czech, Bulgarian professional organizations – in awards and in other topics.
Strategic communications consultant, head of several communications organizations, mainly deals with stakeholder and reputation management for Hungarian and international clients. András commutes between Budapest and London, runs an agency and owns two start-ups. He is currently the President of HUPRA, a member of the international chapter of the CIPR in the UK, and Treasurer and Board Member of ICCO. In 2020, he was the first Hungarian to achieve CIPR Chartered PR Practitioner status.