Maggie Nally Memorial Lecture

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Patrick’s mother Maggie Nally was a well-known force in the burgeoning public relations industry in the ‘60’s and 70’s.

She became the first woman president of the Institute of Public Relations (now CIPR) and the first woman chairman of the National Union of Journalists Press & PR Branch.

Her services to the industry are honoured by an annual Maggie Nally Memorial Lecture in the Houses of Parliament.  Patrick now provides 5 award places to public relations students drawn from the best entries in an annual competition established through CIPR International.


The CIPR’s ever popular and highly regarded flagship event, the Maggie Nally Memorial Lecture, is being given at the Houses of Parliament on 4 May 2017.

Staged at the Palace of Westminster from 6pm the Lecture by Robyn de Villiers is “Out of Africa: an Insider’s Perspective”. De Villiers’ address will tap into her extensive experience of the changing landscape of communication in Africa and the development of the PR industry across this multi-faceted continent. It will offer insight and advice to those wishing to engage with the very diverse markets and cultures of the continent.

The Lecture and will be followed by dinner and drinks in the historic Cholmondeley Room and Terrace in the House of Lords.

Maggie became the first woman President of the Institute of Public Relations in 1976. Quite remarkable seeing it was only in 2011 that the National Union of Journalists has its first woman leader. However, Maggie had also been the first woman chairman of the NUJ’s Press & PR Branch…. At a time when Margaret Thatcher was also making ground-breaking history, the role of women and their intended equality in the workplace was much discussed.

Having worked as a WREN in the Second World War, Maggie contributed to the post war baby boom by producing three children in three years. With business management skills and local journalistic experience she moved into public relations in 1955 establishing the PR department of a small advertising agency. She joined the IPR as an Associate in 1957, became a Full member in 1961 and served on the IPR Council and various Committees.

As chair of the Education Committee Maggie was instrumental in moving the (then) limited public relations education into the newly formed Communication Advertising Marketing Foundation – now CAM – and in persuading some 400 senior practitioners to join her in sitting the examination as an example to the younger ones. She also pushed for, and supported, various public relations education operations in polytechnics and universities. She was elected a Fellow in 1972 and served as Chairman of the Board of Management in 1974.

As President Elect in 1975 Maggie was aware that the IPR had substantial problems. As first woman President (and first solo operator to hold the office) from late 1975 and throughout 1976, Maggie implemented re-organisation of the Institute’s administrative calendar and systems. Her Presidency period was extended while she fought to re-establish the IPR’s credentials and financial security.

From 1976 she was also active with CERP, the European PR body. She initiated re-organisation of CERP and as president she went to CERP’s Berlin conference, to Boston for the World Conference and visited Canadian PR groups – all while running her own business.

Maggie was made an Honorary Member of AWPR in 1976, awarded the Stephen Tallents Medal in 1987 and received CERP Honorary status in 1989.

She edited ‘International Public Relations in Practice’ in 1991. She was also instrumental in the formation of the CIPR’s Greater London Group and the CIPR International group – where she remained active through to 2001.

Maggie had established PR Bulletin in 1970 and was involved with various subsequent Hollis publications ahead of PR Week’s appearance. Notes from that time show that she was battling against the concept that a woman could only handle female subjects – domestic, cooker, fashion and cosmetics. She was also concerned at the limited area PR was supposed to cover and her efforts with corporate, financial, industry, technical, internal and international programmes were, at the time, regarded as unusual.

She also noted that while there were a few women working with charities or retail organisations, in the 60’s she came across only one woman operating in the industrial/manufacturing area. However, from the 80’s onward women had moved into all areas, finance, local government, some aspects of national government, engineering, general industry, media IT etc. In fact, the point was reached both in the UK and the US that there were worries expressed that public relations was becoming dominated by women.

Another big change Maggie noted from late 70’s into the 80’s and beyond was the increased amount of international public relations operations – particularly the use of the UK by the US, South Pacific et al, as the appropriate route to the EU.

Throughout her varied public relations career, Maggie strongly maintained that the female is the equal to the male in professional terms, and this belief she exemplified in her own work and in her participation in professional affairs. In 1969 she was chosen as one of the NUJ’s two delegates to the Women’s Trade Union Congress.

Memorial Lecture Speakers

Year Speaker Job / Position
2017 Robyn de Villiers CEO and Chairman of Burson-Marsteller, Africa
2016 Lord Bilimoria Founder of Cobra Beer and the UK India Business Council
2015 Bessie Lee CEO WPP China
2014 Rob Flaherty Senior Partner, CEO and President of Ketchum
2013 Nemat Shafik Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
2012 Richard Gizbert Presenter “Listening Post”, AI Jazeera
2011 Rt Hon Lord (Tom) McNally Liberal Democratic Leader, House of Lords
2010 Shami Chakrabarti Director, National Council for Civil Liberties
2009 Sir Howard Davies Director, London School of Economics
2008 Lord (David) Puttnam Film-maker, leading Environmentalist
2007 Baroness (Peta) Buscombe Advertising Association
2006 Des Wilson Founder, SHELTER
2005 Mike Hogan Former Head of Media Relations, Shell International
2004 Mike Granatt CB Director General, Government Information Service
2003 Sir Robert Worcester Founder, MORI