Members of the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC), the self-regulating body for professional lobbyists, have passed a vote to merge into the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), a trade association for people in the public relations sector, to form a “united voice” for the UK’s lobbyists.
At a emergency general meeting of the APPC tonight, 57 per cent of members voted in support of the tie-up, on a turnout of 90 per cent.
The APPC will dissolve, becoming a standalone public affairs board within the PRCA, the lobbying members of which will adopt its code of conduct, labeled by the APPC’s chair as “gold standard”. Its management committee will meet early next week to begin the transition process.
The merge will expand the number of lobbying firms using the APPC’s code of conduct from 76 to 135.
Paul Bristow, chair of the APPC, said: “This is an historic night for the lobbying industry in the UK. By combining forces with the PRCA we not only elevate the voice of lobbying in the UK, but we have the opportunity to offer much greater support to our members.”
“The APPC was formed in the wake of direct challenges and threats facing our industry. Almost a quarter of a century on our members face new, albeit different, threats from the growth of regulation,” Bristow said. “By merging with the PRCA we will can now offer our members a stronger and more united voice.”
“Any future government might not understand why lobbying is good for government and democracy,” Bristow told City A.M. “When could face a growing tide of regulation, and I think we need to be speaking with one voice to combat that.”
The APPC, the UK’s biggest industry group for lobbyists, was founded in 1994 in the wake of the ‘Cash for Questions’ affair, aiming to provide transparency about the lobbying industry. The PRCA, which is the largest PR trade association in Europe, was launched in 1969 as the Public Relations Consultants Association, but changed its name in 2016.