Should public relations seek legal regulation?

 has an interesting post, pointing out how  should seek to include an anti- clause in the

He is keen to see “a body of law that is practical for the practice of Public Relations” and believes such campaigns (which date back to ) qualify as anti- activities, mentioned in the Rogers review of Environmental Health and Trading Standards services:

Fair trading (trade description, trade marking, mis-description, doorstep selling) … (where) people become victims of scams.

I think this is an interesting suggestion and support more recognition of existing legislative controls on the practice of public relations (emphasising this in teaching CIPR qualificaitons). 

Demonstrating how PR operates within a legal framework – and pro-actively seeking further regulation – could help counter those who believe that PR in inherently unethical and that practitioners are employed to do whatever their paymasters – or achieving objectives – require. 

Being able to provide strategic counsel on the basis of legislation, not simply moral or professional guidelines, benefits PR and enhance its recognition amongst senior management.  

One concern is that an escalation in regulation might follow – a discussion over controls on healthcare marketing/PR activities in a class a few weeks ago, revealed how everytime behaviour was constrained, new ways were thought up to circumvent these with more “creative” approaches.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

One thought on “Should public relations seek legal regulation?”

  1. In response to a question via Twitter regarding existing regulators on PR practice, I’m no legal expert, but here are some examples of areas we should be conversant with:

    – Data Protection Act
    – Intellectual Property Law (covering patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secret laws)
    – Corporate governance and financial reporting legislation
    – Freedom of Information Act (where applicable)
    – Defamation – libel or slander (which can lead to prosecution or seeking injunctions)
    – Contract law (eg in booking events, working with suppliers, or acting as a consultant)
    – TUPE regulations
    – Consumer law eg Trade Descriptions Act, the Sales of Goods Act or the Consumer Protection Act
    – Self-regulation bodies eg British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion, ASA, PCC and OFCOM
    – Industry voluntary codes of conduct – PRCA, CIPR
    – Restrictions on certain sectors eg PR practitoners employed as civil servants or in local government
    – Self-regulation eg Portman Group for drinks industry

    I’m sure others may be able to advise further.

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