Sweet sixteen

I have been lucky enough in recent years to have the opportunity to discuss PR and communication with people from many countries. This has been both at meetings and conferences overseas and hosting visits at home. Every time I get this chance I am always struck by the similarities that exist in developing and delivering communication across the globe. We wrestle with the same problems, face the same challenges and see the same opportunities. The more work we can do across the globe the better because we can then develop universally accepted standards.

Today the Global Alliance has unveiled new global principles of ethical practice in public relations and communication. It follows six months work from a task force including the PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association) alongside the ICCO, IABC, CPRS and PRSA. In information released today the Alliance chair Jose Manuel Velasco says:

“As communicators and public relations professionals, we have the potential to influence economies and individuals. This carries obligations and responsibilities to society and to organisations.”

I completely agree with this statement. We have the chance to be a force for good helping people and making their lives easier. It doesn’t matter who we work for we have this opportunity ahead of us. However, if we succumb to pressure or take a negative approach it can lead to cynical manipulation that is damaging to people or communities. This is serious and important stuff.

Strong ethical standards are essential. I have written many times on this blog about the importance of this and of ensuring that reputation management does not overtake a focus on people. The 16 principles that have been agreed are going to be incorporated into the codes of ethics of all those involved. Reviewing the codes of ethics should be something we regularly do to ensure we have taken account of the environment around us.

So what is in the 16 principles? In short, nothing in them will be a surprise to any PR or communication professional. They range from working in the public interest, having integrity, and providing honest, truthful and fact-based communication through to being an advocate for the profession, having a commitment to professional development and demonstrating behaviour that enhances the profession.

Personally I can support all the principles because they are so relevant and important to the work I do on a daily basis. If we can bring organisations across the world together then we can really start to improve the understanding of what we do. We can clearly explain the standards we work to and that they are the same across the globe. It gives us the perfect opportunity to drive the profession forwards and respond to those who challenge the role of the PR and communication professional.

We may be worlds apart but if we can all work together across countries then we can elevate the profession to where it should be at the heart of organisations.

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