Industry Voice: The PR industry wants to be held to the most rigorous professional expectations

I have always been struck by the fact that the PR and comms industry is our fiercest driver in demanding higher and higher standards.

The industry expects and requires the highest professional standards, says Francis Ingham
The industry expects and requires the highest professional standards, says Francis Ingham

When it comes to measurement and evaluation, lobbying transparency, paid internships, prompt payment of agencies and so much more, time and time again our industry has told us that just good enough is not good enough. And we are immensely grateful to be working for such a challenging and future-facing industry.

In particular, members of the PRCA want to be held to the most rigorous professional and ethical expectations.

So much so that I would urge employers and clients to be equally strident. If a PR and comms professional won’t meet the gold standard of our wider industry, maybe you shouldn’t be working with them. Because, in my experience, most will.

That is why we have recently updated our Code of Conduct – to speed up the complaints system, allow for anonymous whistle-blowing, better define health PR and comms and ‘astroturfing’ in the sector, and ensure our public affairs and lobbying regulations deliver on transparency.

That is why we made a commitment to include gender pay gap reporting in our Communications Management Standard (CMS), the hallmark of PR and comms excellence, and a commitment to publish our own gender pay gap and a guide for members on how they could report their own figures.

It is also why we launched Ethics Month last September to celebrate the great work that you are all doing. This involved our industry addressing some of the wider issues in the profession.

And it’s why we are now launching Ethical Champions, a new standard of excellence to recognise the PR and comms agencies that are ethical and proud of it. Ethical Champions is a way to identify the consultancies that are doing their best to be model employers, recruiters, account handlers and businesses.

So what is an Ethical Champion?

We think that if you score well in the following areas, you could be well positioned to claim the title:

  • Staff welfare Do you believe that a happy, healthy staff leads to a better service for clients? Do you do the utmost to ensure their well-being?
  • Ethical account management Are you mindful of the moral aspects of account work? Are staff encouraged to express their ethical concerns?
  • Recruitment and retention How do you ensure interview candidates are from the broadest pool, or that interns get structured internships?
  • Ethical business practices What structures do you have in place to ensure that the way that you do business is as ethical as possible?

The industry has made a huge commitment to ethical values. In launching this scheme we are very happy to provide a new standard of excellence to recognise the very best of the best.

To find out more, go to

Francis Ingham is director general of the PRCA

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