IPR to institute code to govern press relations

The Institute of Public Relations is to take action following the release of a global survey that found only a third of PR professionals in the UK are aware of a formal code of conduct governing their contact with the media.

The result has caused alarm among PR industry bodies that believe the findings of the Hutton Inquiry will throw the issue of the relationship between PROs and the media into question.

The survey, conducted by marketing services group Incepta, asked PROs and journalists in 19 countries if they were aware of the code of conduct that governs their daily relationship with journalists.

The UK came fourth in levels of awareness, behind France (44 per cent), the US (40 per cent and South America (40 per cent), with only 32 per cent.

IPR deputy director Anne Mealor said the IPR is planning to invite the NUJ, newspaper proprietors and broadcasters to debate the issue with the aim of formulating guidelines.

‘Ultimately, we would like to set up a body where journalists could make a complaint about PR practitioners and vice versa. At the moment, they have nowhere to go,’ said Mealor.

The survey also recommends greater clarification on protocol for payment of costs for press trips, provision of product samples and out of office briefings.

Forty-one per cent of journalists said they expected the PRO to cover costs, while 32 per cent expected PROs to pay for food, drink and other hospitality.

The majority of PROs in the UK – 58 per cent – felt they were treated with ‘neutrality’ by journalists.

Despite the fact that 26 per cent said that journalists had at one time treated them with hostility, 56 per cent of journalists rated the PR industry as ‘very important’ to the wider media process.

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