PRCA U.S. members call for ethics upgrade in politics

Members say they were prompted by a tweet from former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart.

NEW YORK: U.S. members of the PRCA have called on political, public affairs and media communicators to operate ethically as false information proliferates before the 2020 elections.

They’re demanding content be labeled clearly as editorial or opinion, and they also want satire and parody to be avoided, according to a statement from the group. 

Koray Camgoz, head of communications and marketing at the PRCA, said the members issued the statement in response to a "satire" tweet from former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart. 

"This latest incident, which occurred with the former [White House press secretary], was something they felt they needed to speak out on and stand up for ethical conduct in media, PR, across the board," Camgoz said.

Lockhart explained that the tweet poking fun at Republican senators was satire.

The London-based PRCA has expanded into other markets, such as Singapore, Camgoz said. However, it would grow "organically" in the U.S. through efforts by members themselves and not an official push. 

"At this stage, we’re not in a position yet to branch out in the U.S.," Camgoz said. "But PR is a global industry and increasingly geographical borders are meaningless. So one of the other things we do is run ICCO, which is the International Communications Consultancy Organization, which is the umbrella for [41 trade associations worldwide]."

PRCA said it is one of the few industry bodies that expels members for failing to comply with its professional charter. The group threw out Bell Pottinger for its work in representing Oakbay Investment in South Africa, leading to the firm’s collapse into administration.

While the PRCA is most active in the U.K., members in other countries are expected to abide by its public affairs code, which it launched in February 2019, according to a statement. 

"There comes a point where organizations have to take action, and that’s what we did in 2017 with Bell Pottinger," Camgoz said.

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