This is number 7 of a 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.
If one accepts the conclusion that standards or ethics based on third-party defined (or part-defined) guidelines and reporting will become the defacto requirement on all practitioners, then the natural consideration is how to prepare for this eventuality.
This is where Associations can add real value to their members, bringing together workshops and committees to identify the material aspects of their business that may breach ethical or moral lines and put in place appropriate reporting mechanisms.
Associations then may delegate authority and responsibility for investigating and punishing breaches to their member agencies – for their staff, or to corporations – for their consultants. Both bodies have sufficient governance structures in place to more efficiently investigate breaches and have policies to inflict sufficient penalties to discourage bad practice.
Clients could also be encouraged to adopt the guidelines and best practice (e.g. Charter on Media Spamming or Barcelona Declaration) as part of contractual agreements.
Agencies and client corporations can also create internal ethics committees to monitor, discipline and advise their staff.
This collective approach to enforcing standards may help overcome the factors that have frustrated the PRSA in its 50 years of operations.
It will also lay the fundamental groundwork and foundations required on which to implement a robust and transparent reporting framework.
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