Copyright 2017

Consequences Francis Ingham

 

On the PRCA logo appear the words ‘The Power of Communication’. That’s because of our strong belief in the power of our industry - it changes behaviour; it changes lives; it changes companies and Governments. And, most of that power is used for good. But just occasionally, it is used instead for the wrong purposes.

This week, we expelled Bell Pottinger from the PRCA. We did so because of their unethical and racially divisive work on the Oakbay Capital account in South Africa.

First our Professional Practices Committee, and then our Board, found that Bell Pottinger had broken both our Professional Charter, and our Public Affairs and Lobbying Code of Conduct. Accordingly, they expelled Bell Pottinger with immediate effect. They ruled that Bell Pottinger would be ineligible to apply for re-admission for a minimum period of five years. And, were such an application to be received in or after 2022, two-thirds of the Board would need to vote in its favour for Bell Pottinger to be readmitted.

In our 48-year history, these are the harshest sanctions we ever have handed down to a member. They reflect the severity of Bell Pottinger’s breaches of our ethical frameworks. They reflect how seriously we take those frameworks.

The PR and communications industry is an overwhelmingly ethical one. Companies, in-house teams, and individuals alike adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards. So when one organisation breaks those standards, and brings our industry into disrepute, it is vital that we take action.

That is what we have done. We have taken action. We have done the right thing.

It is not easy to expel what is arguably the most famous PR firm in the world. In doing so, we have come to our conclusions based not on emotion, but on fact. In doing so, we have striven to be completely fair to all parties concerned. In doing so, we have followed the clear rules laid down by our statutes.

And, in making the decision we have, we have shown that our industry is an ethical and professional one - one that realises the responsibility that comes with the power of communication.

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General PRCA, Chief Executive – International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO)

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