The Code of Codes…

This is a record of guidelines from the major PR Associations worldwide roughly sorted into four key principles. 

  1. Transparency

A member is/has/will/shall:

  • Disclosing to employers, clients or potential clients any financial interest in a supplier being recommended or engaged
  • Declaring conflicts of interest (or circumstances which may give rise to them) in writing to clients, potential clients and employers as soon as they arise
  • Ensuring that services provided are costed and accounted for in a manner that conforms to accepted business practice and ethics

Source: CIPR

  • Provides objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions
  • Act in the best interests of the client or employer, even subordinating the member’s personal interests
  • Avoid interactions and circumstances that may appear to compromise good business judgment or create a conflict between personal and professional interests
  • Disclose promptly any existing or potential conflict of interest to affected clients or organizations
  • Encourage clients and customers to determine if a conflict exists after notifying all affected parties
  • Disclose financial interests (such as stock ownership) in a client’s organization
  • Reveal the sponsors for causes and interests represented

Source: PRSA

  • May represent clients with conflicting interests. Work may not start for a conflicting interest without the current client first being offered the opportunity to exercise the rights under any contract between them and consultancy

Source: ICCO

  • Disclose promptly any existing or potential conflict of interest to affected clients or organizations
  • Disclose any client or business interest in published or broadcast editorial work
  • Be prepared to name clients or employers represented and the sponsors for causes and interests represented
  • Inform a client of any shareholding or financial interest held by that firm or any member of that firm in any company, firm or person whose services it recommends

Source: MEPRA

  • Have a duty to ensure the actual interest of any organization with which they may be professionally concerned is adequately declared
  • In making representations to the institutions of government, political consultants must be open in disclosing the identity of their employers and must not misrepresent their interests
  • Political consultants must keep strictly separate from their duties and activities as political consultants any personal activity or involvement on behalf of a political party
  • Political consultants must always abide by the internal rules on declaration and handling of interests laid down by any public body o which they serve
  • Activities should not encourage or induce patients to request a specific prescription medicine from their doctor
  • The source of information disseminated is either explicitly stated or could readily be identified
  • Political consultants who are also local authority councilors are prohibited from working on an assignment of which the objective is to influence a decision of the local authority on which they serve. This restriction also applies to political consultants who are members of other public bodies.

Source: PRCA

  • Not represent competing interests without the express consent of those concerned
  • Not whilst performing services for an employer or client, accept fees, commission or any such consideration in connection with those services from anyone other than the employer or client, without the express consent of the employer or client
  • Not  create any organization to serve an announced cause but which actually serves an undisclosed interest nor make use of any such existing organization

Source IPRA, Code of Venice

  • Do not accept undisclosed gifts or payments for professional services from anyone other than a client or employer
  • Professional communicators do not represent conflicting or competing interests without written consent of those involved
  • Professional communicators identify the sources and purposes of all information disseminated to the public

Source: IABC

2.      Confidentiality

A member is/has/will/shall:

  • Safeguard the confidences of present and former clients and employers
  • Being careful to avoid using confidential and ‘insider’ information to the disadvantage or prejudice of clients and employers, or to self-advantage of any kind
  • Not disclosing confidential information unless specific permission has been granted or the public interest is at stake or if required by law

Source: CIPR

  • Faithful to those they represent, while honouring obligations to serve the public interest
  • Safeguard the confidences and privacy rights of present, former and prospective clients and employees
  • Protect privileged, confidential, or insider information gained from a client or organization
  • Immediately advise an appropriate authority if a member discovers that confidential information is being divulged by an employee of a client company or organization

Source: PRSA

  • Trust is at the heart of the relationship between a client and a PR consultancy. Information that has been provided in confidence by a client and that is not publicly known should not be shared with other parties without the consent of the client.

Source: ICCO

  • Safeguard the confidences and privacy rights of present, former and prospective clients and employers
  • … and shall not use these confidences to the disadvantage or prejudice of such clients or to the financial advantage of the member, unless the client has released such information for public use, or has given specific permission for its disclosure; except upon the order of a court of law
  • Shall not misuse information regarding its clients business for financial or other gain
  • Shall not use inside information for gain. Nor may a consultancy, members, or staff directly invest in their client’s securities without the prior written permission of the client and of the member’s chief executive or chief financial officer or compliance officer

Source: MEPRA

  • Honour confidences received or given in the course of a professional activity
  • Political consultants must abide by the rules and conventions for the obtaining, distribution and release of parliamentary and governmental documents set out by the institutions of government

Source: PRCA

  • Safeguard the confidences of both present and former employers or clients

Source: IPRA Code of Venice

  • Not obtain information from public authorities by deceptive or dishonest means
  • Not sell for profit to third parties copies of documents obtained from public authorities
  • Only employ personnel from public authorities subject to the rules and confidentiality requirements of those authorities

Source: IPRA Code of Brussels

  • Professional communicators protect confidential information and, at the same time, comply with all legal requirements for the disclosure of information affecting the welfare of others
  • Professional communicators do not use confidential information gained as a result of professional activities for personal benefit

Source: IABC

3.      Integrity

A member is/has/will/shall:

  • Honest and responsible regard for the public interest
  • Checks reliability and accuracy of information before dissemination
  • Never knowingly misleads clients, employers, employees, colleagues and fellow professionals about the nature of representation or what can be competently delivered and achieved
  • Supports these Principles by bringing to the attention of the association examples of malpractice and unprofessional conduct

Source: CIPR

  • Adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public
  • Preserve the integrity of the process of communication
  • Be honest and accurate in all communications
  • Act promptly to correct erroneous communications for which the practitioner is responsible
  • Preserve the free flow of unprejudiced information when giving or receiving gifts by ensuring that gifts are nominal, legal and infrequent
  • Investigate the truthfulness and accuracy of information released on behalf of those represented
  • Avoid deceptive practices
  • Preserve intellectual property rights in the marketplace

Source: PRSA

  • Should not knowingly mislead an audience about factual information, or about the interests a client represents. Consultancies must make their best efforts to strive for accuracy

Source: ICCO

  • Be honest and accurate in all communications and act promptly to correct erroneous communications

Source: MEPRA

  • Have a positive duty at all times to respect the truth and shall not disseminate false or misleading information knowingly or recklessly, and to use proper care to avoid doing so inadvertently
  • Adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth, avoiding extravagant claims or unfair comparisons and giving credit for ideas and words borrowed from others
  • Information disseminated is balanced and accurate and not likely to mislead
  • Political consultants must act with honesty towards the institutions of government
  • Political consultants must use reasonable endeavors to satisfy themselves of the truth and accuracy of all statements made
  • Political consultants must not make misleading, exaggerated claims, or otherwise misrepresent the nature or extent of their access to the institutions of government or to political parties or to persons in those institutions
  • Save for entertainment, and token business mementoes, political consultants must not offer or give or cause a colleague to offer or give, any financial or other incentive to any person in public life, whether elected, appointed or co-opted, that could be construed in any way as a bribe or solicitation of favour.
  • Political consultants must not accept any financial or other incentive, from whatever source, that could be construed in any way as a bribe or solicitation of favour
  • Political consultants must not exploit public servants or abuse the facilities or institutions of central, regional or local government

Source: PRCA

  • Not engage in practice which tends to corrupt the integrity of any channel of communication
  • Not intentionally disseminate false or misleading information
  • At all times seek to give a faithful representation of the organization which the practitioner serves

Source: IPRA Code of Venice

  • To communicate to avoid misunderstanding, and to show loyalty and integrity in all circumstances so as to keep the confidence or the clients or employer, past or present, and all of the publics that are affected by the practitioner’s actions
  • Refrain from subordinating the truth to other requirements
  • Refrain from circulating information which is not based on established and ascertainable facts

Source: IPRA Code of Athens

  • Uphold the credibility and dignity of their profession by practicing honest, candid and timely communication and by fostering the free flow of essential information in accord with the public interest
  • Disseminate accurate information and promptly correct any erroneous communication for which they may be responsible
  • Give credit for unique expressions borrowed from others

Source: IABC

4.      Competence

A member is/has/will/shall:

  • Being aware of the limitations of professional competence: without limiting realistic scope for development, being willing to accept or delegate on that work for which practitioners are suitably skilled and experienced
  • Where appropriate, collaborating on projects to ensure the necessary skill base
  • Identify and close professional skills gaps
  • Offer work experience for students interested in pursuing a career in public relations
  • Encourage employees and colleagues to join and support the association
  • Display association designatory letters on business stationery
  • Specify a preference for association applications for staff positions advertised
  • Evaluate the practice using association tool kit and other quality management and assurance systems (ISO) and constantly striving to improve the quality of business performance
  • Share information on good practice and equally, refer perceived examples of poor practice to the association

Source: CIPR

  • Acquire and responsibly use specialised knowledge and experience. They advance the profession through continued professional development, research and education. They build mutual understanding, credibility and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences.
  • Acknowledge that there is an obligation to protect and enhance the profession
  • Keep informed and educated about practices in the profession to ensure ethical conduct
  • Actively pursue personal professional development
  • Decline representation of clients or organsiations that urge or require actions contrary to the code
  • Accurately define what public relations activities can accomplish
  • Counsel subordinates in proper ethical decision making
  • Require that subordinates adhere to the ethical requirements of the Code
  • Follow ethical hiring practices designed to respect free and open competition without deliberately undermining a competitor
  • Report practices not in compliance with the Code, whether committed by PRSA members or not, to the appropriate authority

Source: PRSA

  • Must work with clients to establish clear expectations in advance about the output of their efforts.
  • They must define specific goals and then work to deliver on their promises.
  • Must not offer guarantees which are not supportable, or which compromise the integrity of the channels of communication.
  • Are committed to implementation of best business practices in dealing with all audiences.
  • Work within the scope of an open society and comply with its rules and work with clients that share the same approach.

Source: ICCO

  • Have a positive duty to observe the highest standards in the practice of public relations and where relevant share best codes of practice
  • Must not engage in any practice nor be seen to conduct itself in any manner detrimental to the reputation of the Association, its member firms, or the reputation and interests of the public relations profession, including respect for intellectual property
  • Conduct its professional activities with proper regard for the public interest
  • Actively pursue personal professional development
  • Explain realistically what public relations activities can accomplish
  • Counsel colleagues on ethical decision making
  • Decline representation of clients or organizations that urge or require actions contrary to this code
  • Shall not guarantee the achievement of results that are beyond the member’s direct capacity to achieve or prevent
  • Shall not serve a client under terms or conditions which might impair its independence, objectivity or integrity

Source: MEPRA

  • Have a positive duty to observe the highest standards in the practice of public relations.
  • Shall not engage in any practice nor be seen to conduct itself in any manner detrimental to the reputation of the Association, its member firms, or the reputation and interests of the public relations profession
  • Conduct their professional activities with proper regard to the public interest
  • Are committed to ethical behavior and implementation of best business practices in dealing with all audiences.
  • When working in association with other professionals, identify and respect the codes of these professions and shall not knowingly be party to any breach of such codes
  • Shall not injure the professional reputation or practice of another member
  • Are familiar with, and do not breach relevant national regulations (healthcare, financial) or codes of professional conduct

Source: PRCA

  • Conduct themselves with respect to the public interest and with respect for the dignity of the individual
  • Not employ methods tending to be derogatory of another practitioner’s employer or client
  • Not propose to a prospective client that fees or other compensation be contingent on the achievement of certain results, nor enter into any fee agreement to the same effect
  • Not intentionally injure the professional reputation of another practitioner

Source: IPRA Code of Venice

  • To contribute to the achievement of the moral and cultural conditions enabling human beings to reach their full stature and enjoy the indefeasible rights to which they are entitled under the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
  • To conduct themselves always and in all circumstances in such a manner as to deserve and secure the confidence of those with whom the practitioner comes into contact.
  • To observe in the practitioner’s professional duties, the moral principles and rules of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’
  • To bear in mind that, because of the relationship between the Public Relations’  profession and the public, the practitioner’s conduct – even in private – will have an impact on the way in which the profession as a whole is appraised.
  • Shall refrain from taking part in any venture or undertaking which is unethical or dishonest or capable of impairing human dignity or integrity

Source: IPRA Code of Athens

  • Uphold the dignity of their profession
  • Are sensitive to cultural values and believes
  • Do not guarantee results that are beyond the power of the practitioner to deliver
  • Refrain from taking part in any undertaking which the communicator considers unethical

Source: IABC

 

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