Q.3 Explain the need and importance of a code of ethics in Public Relations with special reference to Pakistani.
Public Relations Ethics:
Before proceeding further, let us have a look at the meaning of the word “ethics”. The words “ethics” and “ethical” are often used synonymously with morals, and ethical f virtues of a person or a group of persons are also considered his or their moral qualities. | Ethics has been derived from the Greek word “ethos” and morals is derived from the Latin word “mores”, both of which means habits or customs. According to the encyclopedia Britannic the ethics or morality of persons or groups, however, consists not merely of f what they habitually or customarily do but of what they think is fitting, right or obligatory to do. Men’s actions are often, but not always, a sign of what they believe: their actions may diverge from their beliefs, and both actions and beliefs may differ from what men say I they ought to do or believe. Morality contains an ineluctable normative element. Whereas a person may engage in habitual and customary conduct without any reflective thought, ethics always involves reflective evaluation or prescription concerning the conduct in question. Even when “customary morality” is spoken of the reference of the term is not merely to the customs as such —in the sense of regular, repeated sequences of behaviour but also to the view, at least implicitly held by the participants, that what they regularly do is in some way right: it is not merely what is done, it is also what is to be done.
On the other hand, “Code” has been defined as a systematically arranged and comprehensive collection of laws, regulations, rules of procedure or conduct or a generally accepted set of principles.
Deriving from the definitions of ethics and code , as outlined above, we can define ‘ the Code of Ethics as a collection of law, regulations, rules of procedure or conduct, or a generally accepted set of principles concerning the conduct of a person or groups under various circumstances and eventualities in a certain or given sphere of human activity. It consists not merely i« what the people habitually or customarily do but in what they think it is fitting, right or obligatory to do. In other words, it is not merely what is done, it is also what has to be done.
IPRA Code of Professional Conduct
The following code of conduct was adopted by the International Public Relations Association at its general assembly in Venice, May 1961 and is binding on all members of the Association.
(A) Personal and Professional Integrity
It is understood that by personal integrity is meant the maintenance of both high moral Declaration of Principles
Members of the Public Relations Society of America” base their professional ] principles on the fundamental value and dignity of the individual, holding that the free exercise of human rights, especially freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom j of the press, is essential to the practice of public relations.
In serving the interests of clients and employers, we dedicate ourselves to the goals of better communication, understanding and cooperation among the diverse individuals, groups and institutions of society.
a) To conduct ourselves professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness and responsibility to the public;
b) To improve our individual, competence and advance the knowledge and proficiency of the profession through continuing research and education;
c) And to- adhere to the articles of the Code Professional Standards for the Practice of Public Relations as adopted by the governing Assembly of the Society.
(B) Code of Professional Standards
The articles reproduced below have been adopted by the Public Relations Society of America to promote and maintain high standards of public service and ethical conduct among its members:
1. A member shall deal fairly with clients or employers, past and present, with fellow practitioners and the general public.
2. A member shall conduct his or her professional life in accord with the public interest.
3. A member shall adhere to truth and accuracy and to generally accepted standards of good taste.
4. A member shall not represent conflicting or competing interests without the express consent of those involved, given after a full disclosure of the facts; nor place himself or herself in a position where the member’s interest is or may be in conflict with a duty to a client, or others, without a full disclosure of such interests to all involved.
5. A member shall safeguard the confidence of both present and former clients or employers and shall not accept retainers or employment which may involve the disclosure or use of these confidences to the disadvantage or prejudice of such client or employers.
6. A member shall not engage in any practice which tends to corrupt the integrity of channels of communication or the processes of government. <
7. A member shall not intentionally communicate false or misleading information and is obligated to use care to avoid communication of false or misleading information.
8. A member shall be prepared to identify publicly the name of the client or employer on whose behalf any public communication is made.
9. A member shall not make use of any individual or organization purporting to serve or represent an announced cause, or purporting to be independent or unbiased, but actually serving an Undisclosed special or private interest of a member, client or employer.
10. A member shall not intentionally injure the professional reputation or practice of another practitioner. However, if a member has evidence that another member has been guilty of unethical, illegal or unfair practices, including those in violation of this Code, the member shall present the information promptly to the proper authorities of the Society for action in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article XIII of the Bylaws.
11. A member called as a witness in a proceeding for the enforcement of this Code shall be bound to appear, unless excused for sufficient reason by the Judicial Panel.
12. A member in performing services for a client or employer, shall hot accept fees, commissions or any other valuable consideration from any one other than the client or employer in connection with those services without the express consent of the client or employer, given after a full disclosure of the facts.
13. A member shall not guarantee the achievement of specified results beyond the member’s direct control.
14. A member shall, as soon as possible, sever relations with any organization or individual if such relationship requires conduct contrary to the articles of this Code.
Need for a Code in Pakistan
Public relations serves a wide variety of institutions, both in the public and the private sector such as business, industry, government agencies, trade unions, voluntary Associations, charitable trusts/foundations, religious/educational institutions, hospitals, etc. For achieving their goals, these institutions need to develop effective relationships with their ‘Publics” or target groups and with the society at large. The PR practitioner serves as a bridge/ mediator helping to translate private aims into reasonable and publicly acceptable policy and The information he supplies about the organization must in all cases carry mention of its source, be strictly objective and be absolutely free of propaganda, commercial publicity or advertising content. The Press Officer carries out the duties defined above as a specialist in relations with the following information media: press, films radio and television. The duties of a public relations practitioner and of a press officer are incompatible with their practising at the same time as a professional journalist or advertising agent. The only remuneration for public relations or press work shall be the fees of the client or salary of the employee on whose account this work was undertaken. — Translation by Claude chapeau as appearing in Eleven Years of Public Relations, a brochure prepared by Galleries Orleanzises, France, in April 1965.