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NUJ backs Helsinki Declaration for ethical PR

17 October 2017

The NUJ has offered its support for the International Communications Consultancy Organisation's Helsinki Declaration for ethical PR behaviour.

Phil Morcom, chair of the NUJ public relations and communications industrial council, said:

"The NUJ is absolutely committed to ethical journalism in all its forms, including public relations. The recent Helsinki Declaration on ethical PR practice is a valuable tool for reminding practitioners of their responsibilities and echoes NUJ guidance.
"It remains clear that all too often PR professionals continue to need strong trade union support to resist the pressure to behave unethically, and the NUJ continues to provide members with that support." 

The International Communications Consultancy Organisation called on the worldwide PR industry to stand by 10 principles of ethical behaviour announced at the ICCO global summit in Helsinki.

The principles are aimed at uniting the global PR industry under a single banner of ethical behaviour. It takes into account the increasing influence of PR around the world, and the considerable dangers associated with unethical behaviour.

The Helsinki Declaration stands for the importance of PR work that is ethical and in the public interest; that is truthful and respectful of privacy; that does not cause offence; and that upholds the reputation of the industry. It also points to the dangers of 'astroturfing' and fake news; and the potential for misuse of social media.

The Helsinki Declaration builds on the framework outlined in the Stockholm Charter, which was adopted in 2003 and replaced the Rome Charter, originally adopted by ICCO in 1986. The Stockholm Charter lays out a code of professional standards that aim to define the PR industry.

Speaking at the ICCO global summit, Francis Ingham, called on PR experts to stand in support of the Helsinki Declaration:

"My firm conviction is that the PR industry is fundamentally a very ethical one. But I know that in this era of ever increasing transparency, we will be scrutinised more and more, and judged on our behaviour rather than just our words. The Helsinki Declaration is an important step forward for us as we prepare for those increased levels of scrutiny – a simple, easy to follow statement of ethical practice. Principles that are as applicable in Singapore as in Paris, London, New York, or indeed anywhere else around the globe."

The Helsinki Declaration

  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.

Tags: , public relations, pr, pr and communications, prca, ethics, code of conduct