Cupcake Codes Disguise a Common Consensus

This is number 2 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 observed that there are four key themes that are consistent across all the Codes studied.

These are ConfidentialityIntegrityCompetence and Transparency and are most explicitly stated in five of the international associations reviewed (Chartered Insititute of PR – CIPR) (Global Alliance) (PR Society of America) (International Communications Consultancy Organisation, 2003) (Middle East PR Association – MEPRA). (See Table 2 – Common Themes Expressed in Codes of Ethics)

The Codes of 8 associations each have the same base ingredients, but slightly different articles sprinkled for effect

(i)                Table 2 – Common Themes Expressed in Codes of Ethics




Global Alliance[4]


Transparency & avoiding conflicts of interest Conflicts of interest&


Conflicts of interest Loyalty Objective counsel and advocacy
Confidentiality Safeguarding confidences&


Openness and Privacy Confidentiality
Integrity Honesty&

Free flow of information


Disclosure of information

Advocacy & Honesty Advocacy & HonestyIntegrity Integrity of information
Competence Enhancing the profession&


Professionalism Expertise Governance and Business Practices

They form the base ingredients on top of which the different Associations have attempted to add colour and flavor in the form of specific articles. This gives the appearance that they are differences in the quality or standards each organization demands from its members, however, once one cuts through the butter cream icing – they all effectively have the same cake base.

In the codes studied Confidentiality relates to handling of sensitive information; and Integrity the accuracy of facts and also not undertaking activities that might be conceived as bribery or breaking the law.

Competence is in the pursuing of knowledge, and also setting correct expectations on what can be achieved through a PR campaign. And Transparency, not having any hidden agenda, conflict of interest and making full and appropriate disclosures about your identity and clients.

The benefit of this observation is that the industry is for perhaps the first time at a stage where it can set common guidelines which are acceptable to the sector as a whole.

[1] (Chartered Insititute of PR – CIPR, pp. 3-4)

[2] (PR Society of America, p. 1)

[3] (Middle East PR Association – MEPRA)

[4] (Global Alliance, p. 4)

[5] (Stockholm Charter, 2003)

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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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