NEW YORK: With the media reporting ever more frequently on the blurred lines between journalists, experts, and spokespeople, a number of agencies are taking steps to make sure employees are aware of proper procedures for disclosure.
Following news of Ketchum's controversial contract with commentator Armstrong Williams, Edelman assembled a global task force to examine and revise its own code of conduct, said Nancy Ruscheinski, president of Edelman's Central US region.
The new code, which should be released at the beginning of the summer, will get into more detail about dealing with different types of media.
"We don't want anything left to interpretation," Ruscheinski said. "With everything that has been going on in the industry we think it needs to go further."
Daryl McCullough, president of PainePR, said that his agency recently distributed disclosure guidelines to staff as a reminder.
"There's definitely been buzz, based on media scrutiny," he said.
Ray Kerins, EVP and managing director of corporate communications and media relations at GCI Group, said he held an internal roundtable on the topic of VNRs, SMTs, and paid spokespeople two weeks ago. Sixty-five staff members attended the event, more than double the number that usually show up for the quarterly roundtables, Kerins said.
"The whole point of the discussion is to have an open, transparent environment within GCI where people can express their opinions and feelings," he said. "And this particular issue is pretty significant in how it affects us."
Kerins said written guidelines on the topic shouldn't be necessary as long as employees can trust that those in positions of power to make the best decision.
"The reason that we had that meeting is that we need to continuously raise the bar on ourselves," he said.