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« It's not a blog but the BBC News editor's site is a good read | Main | The Hobson and Holtz Report - Podcast #25: April 18, 2005 »

18 April 2005


Richard Bailey

And in the UK, the award of chartered status to the professional body (now CIPR) implies a greater focus on PR as a force for good when practised responsibly.

Neville Hobson

And that's the key point, Richard, isn't it - "practised responsibly."

The CIPR has its own code of conduct (http://www.ipr.org.uk/Membership/membership7.htm) which, the CIPR says, is an enforceable code and one which CIPR members agree to adhere to. Well, that's the same policy as IABC's.

The PRSA in the US also has a code of ethics (http://www.prsa.org/_About/ethics/preamble.asp?ident=eth3). On enforcement, PRSA says this:

"Emphasis on enforcement of the Code has been eliminated. But, the PRSA Board of Directors retains the right to bar from membership or expel from the Society any individual who has been or is sanctioned by a government agency or convicted in a court of law of an action that is in violation of this Code."

This is all great but such codes need to be actively and visibly promoted (advocated) as professional standards of behaviour. The codes talk about such things, but I wonder how many members of any of these associations have them in mind at all in their day-to-day work. Unlikely.

My argument is that the associations have an obligation to ensure the codes of conduct or ethics, or whatever they want to call them, are front of mind for everyone.

PRSA also says this:

"Ethical practice is the most important obligation of a PRSA member. We view the Member Code of Ethics as a model for other professions, organizations, and professionals."

I don't imagine anyone would disagree with this. But it would be great if such lofty ideals actually had some teeth. To quote Richard Edelman again:

"We need a code of ethics and we need to be prepared to live by it. Violators of the code should be exposed and subject to some form of sanction."

What I'd like to see is a single code of ethics that applies to everyone, no matter their professional affiliation.

How difficult can that be?

Charles Pizzo

>>>Historically, IABC has never assumed an advocacy role on anything outside its membership focus.<<<

Generally speaking, this is true. But there is one ancient example of which I am aware: http://www.iabc.com/info/news/2000/sept.htm

The reaction to that piece of advocacy is documented on the http://blogs.iabc.com/chair/archives/2005/04/06/welcome-to-the-iabc-cafe/

Enforcement: in terms of process, that would require additional staff to monitor the profession and/or a process whereby members reported alleged infractions. Review would then be required, possibly by a volunteer committee.

In cases where an infraction is believed to have occurred, review by an attorney would certainly be required. And an association would have to be prepared legally for liability and lawsuits. Insurance coverage would have to be increased. Thus, enforcement is more common in licensed professions.

It would require funding. Oops, there's that f-word. What will provide new revenue streams to cover such expenses? Dues?

I was there when the new code was adopted. Ideally, we would have enforcement. Realistically, how does an association balance that with liability and legal costs? Talking about doing the right thing is one thing, funding it is another. Either we have to invest more, or we have to give something else up.

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