An Association’s Code of Conduct is Potentially a ‘Glass Slipper’

This is number 1 of an 8 part series of observations following a study of  ethical, moral and codified guidance provided by a variety of respected Public Relations Associations from the United States, Europe and the Middle East. 

It is the author’s first observation that no individual organization has an appropriately thorough code of conduct or book of standards to cover all areas of our industry – which by its nature is continuously evolving as new media and  innovations are discovered and become widely adopted into society.

The same Code of Conduct might not fit practitioners of Public Affairs, IR, Healthcare, Litigation Support or Social Media

Codes of conduct can be compared to the Glass Slipper in the fable of Cinderella. A beautiful item that only fits one person perfectly, and for all others leaves sufficient space to stumble (Table 1 comparison of # articles providing guidance on specific issues).

(i)                Table 1 comparison of # articles providing guidance on specific issues




PRCA[4] (PC / PA/HC)

IRPA[5] (CoC /Vn/Br/ Ath)



(CoC / RACoC)







16 / 30

**Note the Global Alliance includes pages of case studies offering guidance on ethical decision-making rather than prescriptive statements (Global Alliance, pp. 7-14)

The Global Alliance requires special consideration here, in that it offers a Code that imposes the responsibility of ethical performance solely on the back of the practitioner. A code is described as “an individual matter that should be viewed as a guide to make values based decisions. (Global Alliance, p. 6)”

The first conclusion and recommendation is therefore for all practitioners to familiarize themselves with many Codes from different Associations in order that they have sufficient armory to enable robust and ethical decision-making. This will also help to prevent making an inadvertent moral breach. They should then study the Global Alliance’s Code and the Case Studies within to assist ethical decision making and ensure the quality of their ‘Ethical Performance’ (Global Alliance, p. 6).

The following documents are especially recommended and are freely available on the Internet:

General Guidelines and Ethics

  • Code of Conduct (Chartered Insititute of PR – CIPR, pp. 2-3)
  • Code of Ethics (PR Society of America)
  • Code of Athens (IPRA, 2009)
  • Code of Ethics (Global Alliance, pp. 6-14)
  • Code of Conduct ( – About/Code of Conduct)

Industry Specific Guidelines

  • Charter on Media Transparency (International PR Association – IPRA)
  • Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles (Institute for Public Relations, Global Alliance, ICCO, PRSA, AMEC U.S. & Agency Leaders Chapter, 2010)
  • Public Affairs Code of Conduct (Public Relations Consultants Association – PRCA), 2011)
  • Healthcare Public Relations (Public Relations Consultants Association – PRCA), 2011)
  • Advice for financial professionals / those holding confidential information (Public Relations Consultants Association – PRCA)
  • Media Spamming Charter (Public Relations Consultants Association – PRCA, CIPR, IRS & NUJ)
  • Social Media Best Practice Guide (Chartered Institute for Public Relations – CIPR, 2011)
  • CIPR Best Practice Guidelines for Environmental Sustainability Communications (Chartered Institute of Public Relations – CIPR)
  • Best practice guide for using statistics in communications (Chartered Institute of Public Relations – CIPR, The Market Research Society and The Royal Statistical Society)
  • Guidance for Investor Relations Practitioners on the UK Corporate Governance Code (Investor Relations Society, 2010)

Governing potential breaches

  • Code of Conduct (Chartered Insititute of PR – CIPR)
  • Code of Conduct (Public Relations Consultants Association – PRCA), 2011)
  • PRSA Enforcement Policy (James E. Lukaszewski, 2010) (Kathy R. Fitzpatrick, 2000)

[1] (Chartered Insititute of PR – CIPR, pp. 2-3)

[2] (International Association of Business Communicators)

[3]  (PR Society of America)

[4] (Public Relations Consultants Association – PRCA), 2011)

[5] IPRA (Code of Brussels, 2009) (Code of Venice, 2009) (Code of Athens, 2009) (IPRA, 2011)

[6] (Stockholm Charter, 2003)

[7] MEPRA (Registered Agency Code of Conduct) (Code of Conduct)

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This work by Stephen King is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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About stephenking2012

In 2012 I volunteered to hold the position of Chair - Standards & Ethics Committee for the Middle East PR Association (@MEPRA_org). I have set up this account to assist in this effort. You may also like to follow my Blog or connect with me on LinkedIn. In any case, please do visit, and if you are not yet a member, please do sign up!
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