New Global Principles of Ethical Practice in Public Relations and Communication Management announced

For the past six months, following a meeting in Madrid, a task force of leading public relations and communication management organizations has been exploring a new set of principles in ethical practice and exploring ways to promote ethical conduct.

“Today, we are happy to announce that the members of the Global Alliance and IABC have agreed on sixteen principles that should be covered in every code of ethics for our profession. We are also happy to announce that these principles have the support of ICCO, the PRCA UK and PRCA MENA,” said Jose Manuel Velasco, chair of the Global Alliance representing more than sixty organizations. “Our combined efforts will help elevate the profession and promote ethics from a position of strength,” Velasco added.

The principles are those that are deemed essential to practice. Project lead, and GA past chair Jean Valin states: “As communicators and public relations professionals, we have the potential to influence economies and individuals. This carries obligations and responsibilities to society and to organisations. Ethics must be at the core of our activity. In our world of fake news and concerns over privacy as artificial intelligence ramps up, we are at an ethical crossroads. There is no public relations/communication profession without ethics.”

Members of the task force included representatives from:

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS)
Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ)
Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA)
International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO)
International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) United Kingdom and Middle East North Africa

The Task Force identified 16 principles that we deem universal and fundamental to the practice of public relations and communication management. These are based on an analysis of the most prominent codes of ethics in public relations and communication management and builds on the 2003 global protocol on ethics, the recent Helsinki principles and the IABC code:

Guiding principles

  1. Working in the public interest
  2. Obeying laws and respect diversity and local customs
  3. Freedom of speech
  4. Freedom of assembly
  5. Freedom of media
  6. Honesty, truth and fact-based communication
  7. Integrity
  8. Transparency and disclosure
  9. Privacy

Principles of professional practice

  1. Commitment to continuous learning and training
  2. Avoiding conflict of interest
  3. Advocating for the profession
  4. Respect and fairness in dealing with publics
  5. Expertise without guarantee of results beyond capacity
  6. Behaviours that enhance the profession
  7. Professional conduct

“Less than a year ago, we expelled one of our most high-profile members from the UK Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) because of a breach of ethics. Building on that decision, the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) developed the Helsinki Declaration – our global principles of ethical practice. We warmly welcome these complementary principles from the Global Alliance. Seen together, our collective work represents the new gold standards of ethical public relations practice,” said Francis Ingham of the ICCO and PRCA.

“It is our belief that identifying overarching principles and ethical standards further elevates the profession and offers the basis for co-operation among the various professional bodies. This effort solidifies and spotlights our collective commitment to upholding the highest standards in our professional endeavors,” said Dianne Chase, a global leader in IABC and task force member.

All members of the Global Alliance (sixty plus organizations) will be reviewing their codes of ethics to determine if they align with the new global principles within six months. The Global Alliance has updated its own 2003 code to reflect the new global principles.

Recognizing the importance of putting principles and codes into practice, the task force also has assembled a repository of critical resources such as case studies, podcasts, newsletters and advisories culled from the members of the Alliance and other organizations. It is available here.

If you would like to add something to our global resource list, please get in touch with us. The Global Alliance will be participating in a global campaign to promote ethics over the coming months.

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