By strengthening links with national trade bodies such as Britain's PRCA, chairing annual ICCO meetings – the next of which is in March 2006 in New York – and attending and speaking at trade events, Saunders looks poised for action in this honorary post.
His overarching aim, he said, will be to encourage the industry to debate what it stands for.
He said PR should be about more than just business: 'We need to devote more energy to ethics. If we are to advise on reputation management, we must be above reproach.'
Current codes of conduct – such as ICCO's Stockholm charter and the PRCA-devised Consultancy Management Standard – were not enough, he added. He compared PR with industries such as accountancy, which are answerable for the information they relay: 'We need to impose more rigorous standards on ourselves, before they are imposed on us by others.'
Saunders will serve two years as president, replacing Burson-Marsteller worldwide COO Carlos Lareau, who will be V-P for a year.