MsInterPReted: Global PR Industry #PRethics Codes

September 29, 2023

Fletcher Marketing PR Senior Strategist, Mary Beth West commissioned new worldwide ethics code research through her work on the PRCA Global Ethics Council.

The new London-based Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) research was released in the white paper entitled “The State of Ethics Codes in the Public Relations Industry: A Global Analysis” (available for free download). It documents that among 24 PR industry ethics codes in nearly as many nations worldwide, there is little unified consensus about how ethics codes should be employed as “living documents” in the everyday work of industry leaders and practitioners.

Some PR associations heavily promote simply having an ethics code as a crowning achievement.
But precisely how much dust a long-ago published code has gathered while sitting on a virtual shelf, unrevised for years – perhaps decades – may underscore how seriously its parent PR association authentically engages on the topic of ethics.
In this episode of MsInterPReted, Mary Beth discusses her findings with CEO Kelly Fletcher.
As noted in the white paper, “the PR industry arguably is failing to keep up with the maelstrom of present-day issues on the ethics front… reflected in part by outdated and insufficient PR member-association ethics codes.”

After all, if an ethics code hasn’t been meaningfully updated since before the dawn of social media and is widely locked in a myopic, media-relations-centric time-warp of PR practice, then it’s missing massive chunks of essential treatment of contemporary issues.

Discussion covers:
Disclosing Paid Media
Giving/Receiving Gifts
Whistleblower protection
And other industry related ethics codes

This #PRethics Month, PR organizations are urged to take a fresh look at their ethics codes, compare them with best-practices documented in this white paper, and undertake a deep-dive effort to make codes more current, relevant, useful, and prominent.

Mary Beth West, APR, FPRCA, is a long-time advocate of stronger ethical practices in PR, in balanced service to employers, clients, stakeholders, and also the public good. She can be followed on LinkedIn, at @marybethwest, and at