Ethisphere Institute joins talks to create Edelman's 'PR Compact'

The corporate ethics group is in discussions with the PR Council to develop a universal set of communications ethics guidelines.

Ethisphere Institute joins talks to create Edelman's 'PR Compact'

NEW YORK: The Ethisphere Institute has begun talks with the PR Council to create a new set of ethics standards for the communications industry, which Edelman CEO Richard Edelman called for last month.

Ethisphere CEO Timothy Erblich confirmed his group, which defines and advances best standards in corporate ethics, is taking part in the brainstorming process.

"The PR Council, as an industry representative, vs. [Arthur W. Page Society], which serves the corporate or client side, is the right organization along with leading firms like Edelman to follow through on Mr. Edelman’s call to action," Erblich said via email. "In fact, Ethisphere has been in discussions with PR Council to contemplate creating such standards. It’s a thoughtful process, and one I hope progresses."

Page Society president Roger Bolton said on Friday that he had a "brief conversation" with his counterpart at the PR Council, Renee Wilson, the group’s president. Wilson said on Friday that she had nothing new to report.

"Everyone has been fully supportive and discussions between these groups and Edelman have been ongoing," an Edelman spokesperson said, via email.

A month ago, Richard Edelman called on industry groups such as the PR Council, the Page Society, and the Public Relations Society of America to form an overarching set of ethics guidelines called the "PR Compact."

"This crazy quilt of PR standards will no longer suffice," said Edelman in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, last month, weeks after London-based firm Bell Pottinger collapsed after a scandal resulting from its work in South Africa.

While supportive of Edelman’s sentiment, numerous agency leaders said they were not convinced such an initiative was possible.

"PR ethics isn’t rocket science, and the people who need these guidelines are exactly the people who wouldn’t follow them," said Josh Galper, cofounder and partner of Trident DMG, via email. "Putting aside the fact that transparency and truth should be common sense, he’ll need many organizations to commit to participating and a watchdog to enforce the standards."

David Landis, president of Landis Communications, added that he supports Edelman’s call but his words should be backed up with action.

"If we can’t commit to a timeline and implementation, then what good is a PR Compact?" Landis said, via email. "I challenge them to deliver a written PR Compact with implementation deliverables by December 31, 2017."

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