Public relations accused of “blowing it” online

Jeff Jarvis in the Guardian highlights how too many public relations practitioners are exploiting the ability to engage genuinely and openly online with cyberpublics.  We have a golden opportunity here to regain some credibility by being responsible, but it seems bad old habits die hard.  CIPR is proposing a new code of conduct, which will include reflection on new media developments.  Sometimes such codes are largely toothless (although good to see WOMMA has put Edelman on review for breaking its code with the Walmart fake blog) – but it is vital that the topic of ethics online – particularly the importance of transparency and honesty – are debated as widely as possible.


  1. Jill Blake says:

    If the new code of conduct means bad practitioners can be scrutinised by the CIPR without a complaint by another member, how does the CIPR hope to police this? Short of scouring the newspapers every day, how will this be managed?

  2. That is an interesting point – this seems designed to cover a hole in the current system, particularly for any high profile cases where members might not complain thinking others will have done so. Although arguably if the president is a member than he could complain anyway. The biggest issue of course, is that such bodies don’t cover everyone working in PR and also deal with after-the-event rather than ensuring ethical practice becomes synonymous with PR rather than the current perception of it being spin and propaganda unfortunately.

  3. Jill Blake says:

    Closing any holes in the current code as the problems arise though tells the public, that, yes, we know that PR practitioners are not legally obliged to join the CIPR but those that do are under its watchful gaze.

    I liken this to an employment feature I wrote about funeral directors. Anbody can set up as one in the UK but I saw it as my duty to tell those embarking on a career in the industry right down to those picking a funeral director to organise a funeral – make sure you pick one that’s a member of a regulatory body.

    Hopefully bad PR practitioners can be flushed when the time comes that they are in the minority as non-members or even better if common sense prevails a legislation takes over.

  4. Agree – this is a step in the right direction and anything that encourages the best to be recognised is okay by me. Interesting analogy with funeral directors!!

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