All members of the CIPR are bound by the Code of Conduct. They make the commitment on joining and renew this annually when they renew their membership.
Under the principles of the Code, members of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations agree to:
- maintain the highest standards of professional endeavour, integrity, confidentiality, financial propriety and personal conduct;
- deal honestly and fairly in business with employers, employees, clients, fellow professionals, other professions and the public;
- respect, in their dealings with other people, the legal and regulatory frameworks and codes of all countries where they practise;
- uphold the reputation of, and do nothing that would bring into disrepute, the public relations profession or the Chartered Institute of Public Relations;
- respect and abide by this Code and related Notes of Guidance issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and ensure that others who are accountable to them (e.g. subordinates and sub-contractors) do the same;
- encourage professional training and development among members of the profession in order to raise and maintain professional standards generally.
The above principles apply to all members regardless of the nature of the work they are undertaking. Members acting in specific capacities must also adhere to relevant additional professional standards from the CIPR. The CIPR has published a professional standard for lobbying, explaining the CIPR Code of Conduct in the specific context of public affairs (see below)
Where a complaint is brought against a member, the professional standards panel will consider the alleged wrongdoing in the light of the relevant sector-specific professional standard when determining whether the code of conduct has been breached.
Sector-Specific Professional Standard – Lobbying
10 Professional behaviours required of lobbyists
- Professional lobbyists must tell you who they are and whom they represent – including the nature of their client’s or employer’s interests.
- Professional lobbyists do not intentionally mislead in any way.
- Professional lobbyists provide information that is accurate and true. Lobbyists should make a reasonable effort to verify statements and they should be clear about what they don’t know to be accurate or true. No information should be deliberately omitted or obscured from briefings, statements or other material used in the course of lobbying where to do so would potentially create a misleading impression.
- Professional lobbyists do not offer bribes or inducements - which includes gifts or excessive entertainment, whether or not the intention is to solicit a favour or preference.
- Professional lobbyists manage and avoid conflicts of interest. They may not represent two clients who compete in the same market or have a clash of interests. A conflict of interest can also arise between the lobbyists’ professional and personal political interests. Where this arises, the professional lobbyist is expected to cease relevant lobbying until any conflicts can be resolved. This might arise when lobbying while holding elected or public office, pursuing a voluntary role in politics or working as a political adviser.
- Professional lobbyists respect confidentiality – this is more than simply keeping a client’s commercial information confidential. Professional lobbyists, who may know politicians and civil servants socially, do not misuse privileged information for commercial gain.
- Professional lobbyists respect the rules and regulations of the institutions of government and representation wherever they work, and the codes of conduct that bind other professionals.
- Professional lobbyists respect the public’s right to know about lobbying activity. This means that professional lobbyists should be willing to publicly identify themselves and disclose the interests on whose behalf they lobby, as well as disclosing their clients.
- Professional lobbyists observe rules, resolutions, codes of conduct and statutes in relation to employing or contracting elected representatives, members of Parliament or members of the House of Lords, holders of public office and public servants – this includes any rules covering the periods of time after they have left those roles.
- Professional lobbyists do not use access privileges to lobby – professional lobbyists who hold passes or otherwise have privileged access to the precincts of any Parliament, Assembly, Council or other elected body, or any Institution of Government, where that pass is not explicitly granted in relation to their role as a lobbyist, must not make use of it in the course of lobbying or otherwise abuse this privilege.
Putting the principles into practice
Examples of good public relations practice include:
Integrity and honesty
- Ensuring that clients, employers, employees, colleagues and fellow professionals are fully informed about the nature of representation, what can be delivered and achieved, and what other parties must do in order to enable the desired result.
- Never deliberately concealing the practitioner’s role as representative of a client or employer, even if the client or employer remains anonymous: e.g. by promoting a cause in the guise of a disinterested party or member of the public.
- Checking the reliability and accuracy of information before dissemination.
- Supporting the CIPR Principles by bringing to the attention of the CIPR examples of malpractice and unprofessional conduct.
Capacity, capability and competence
- Delivering work competently: that is, in a timely, cost-effective, appropriate and thoughtful manner, according to the actual or implied contract; applying due professional judgement and experience; taking necessary steps to resolve problems; and ensuring that clients and other interested parties are informed, advised and consulted as necessary.
- Being aware of the limitations of professional capacity and capability: without limiting realistic scope for development, being willing to accept or delegate only that work for which practitioners are suitably skilled and experienced and which they have the resources to undertake.
- Where appropriate, collaborating on projects to ensure the necessary skill base.
Transparency and avoiding conflicts of interest
- Disclosing to employers, clients or potential clients any financial interest in a supplier being recommended or engaged.
- Declaring conflicts of interest (or circumstances which may give rise to them) in writing to clients, potential clients and employers as soon as they arise.
- Ensuring that services provided are costed, delivered and accounted for in a manner that conforms to accepted business practice and ethics.
- Safeguarding confidences, e.g. of present and former clients and employers.
- Never using confidential and ‘insider’ information to the disadvantage or prejudice of others, e.g. clients and employers, or to self-advantage of any kind.
- Not disclosing confidential information unless specific permission has been granted or if required or covered by law.
Interpreting the Code
In the interpretation of this code, the Laws of the Land shall apply. With that proviso, the code will be implemented according to the decision at the time of the Professional Practices Committee.
Maintaining professional standards
CIPR Members are encouraged to
a) raise and maintain their own professional standards by, for example:
- identifying and closing professional skills gaps through the Institute’s Continuing Professional Development programme;
- participating in the work of the Institute through the committee structure, special interest and vocational groups, training and networking events;
- evaluating the practice of public relations through use of recognised tools and other quality management and quality assurance systems (e.g. ISO standards);
- constantly striving to improve the quality of business performance;
- sharing information on good practice with Members and, equally, referring perceived examples of poor practice to the Institute.
b) raise the professional standards of other public relations practitioners to the level of CIPR Members by, for example:
- offering work experience to students interested in pursuing a career in public relations;
- encouraging employees and colleagues to join and support the CIPR;
- specifying a preference for CIPR applicants for staff positions advertised.
c) spread awareness of the CIPR’s role as guardian of standards for the public relations profession
by, for example:
- displaying the CIPR designatory letters on business stationery;
- referring to the CIPR Code of Conduct in every contract.
The content of the code is governed by CIPR Council. Members are welcome to put their views on the code to the Professional Practices Committee, through the CIPR PR Manager, Jon Gerlis.
For further information or advice on the CIPR Code of Conduct and the processes that support it, please contact:
Kevin Taylor Chart.PR, FCIPR, Regulatory Consultant
0207 631 6944