This is PRCA Ethics Month. So it was highly appropriate that I was able -in my role as ICCO Chief Executive- to launch the Helsinki Declaration on ethical practice last week, In the Finnish Capital.
The 10 principles in the Helsinki Declaration call on PR professionals:
1. To work ethically and in accordance with applicable laws;
2. To observe the highest professional standards in the practice of public relations and communications;
3. To respect the truth, dealing honestly and transparently with employees, colleagues, clients, the media, government and the public;
4. To protect the privacy rights of clients, organisations, and individuals by safeguarding confidential information;
5. To be mindful of their duty to uphold the reputation of the industry;
6. To be forthcoming about sponsors of causes and interests and never engage in misleading practices such as “astroturfing”
7. To be aware of the power of social media, and use it responsibly;
8. To never engage in the creation of or knowingly circulate fake news;
9. To adhere to their Association’s Code of Conduct, be mindful of the Codes of Conduct of other countries, and show professional respect at all times;
10. To take care that their professional duties are conducted without causing offence on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, origin, religion, disability or any other form of discrimination.
The principles propose to unite the global PR industry under a single banner of ethical behaviour, taking into account the increasing influence of PR around the world, and the considerable dangers associated with unethical behaviour. The Declaration builds on the framework outlined in the Stockholm Charter, which was adopted in 2003.
Every single PR practitioner in the UK and indeed everywhere else in the world should be able sign up to these principles. In these days of fake news; when transparency requirements have never been greater; and with rightfully stronger demands than ever before that practitioners act professionally and ethically, this Declaration has come at the perfect time.
I believe that ours is an overwhelmingly professional industry. In the UK alone, over 20,000 PR professionals are happy to sign up to, and abide by, our Professional Charter and Codes of Conduct. And on the very rare occasions when malpractice occurs, we have shown that the PRCA takes speedy and decisive action. But just because something is true doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about it. Our industry has standards, and we should say what they are -the Helsinki Declaration does just that.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will be urging practitioners, companies, and the Associations who represent them publicly to commit to this Declaration. So. Do the right thing -sign up!