The decision today by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) to expel Bell Pottinger is brave and decisive. For many years the industry has been trying to demonstrate it values an ethical approach to the work and has invested time in training and publicising this approach. But this feels like a turning point.
The industry body has to uphold the highest standards and membership should never be taken for granted. It is reassuring to see strong action being taken.
The behaviour has been highlighted by the media and once again means people will question the activity of all communication professionals. Over the years I have spent a lot of time trying to explain what PR is about and to demonstrate the positive impact it can have on life. We cannot let the actions of a few tarnish the work we all do. If we let them continue unchallenged it will be hugely damaging to us all.
I am proud to be a member of the PRCA at a time when they have taken a significant stand for the industry. From the report issued today there is a salutary lesson about the importance of senior people understanding what activity staff are involved in and what work is being undertaken. Ignorance can never be an excuse when organisations fall below expected standards.
As communicators we all need to ensure ethics remain in the forefront of our minds. We need to train and discuss issues, we need to demonstrate ethical working and continue to challenge those that could bring the industry into disrepute. Let us use this difficult situation as a turning point for us all.