The Public Relations Institute of Australia's Code of Ethics

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The Public Relations Institute of Australia's Code of Ethics is a voluntary self-regulatory code. "The Institute requires members to adhere to the highest standards of ethical practice and professional competence. All members are duty-bound to act responsibly and to be accountable for their actions," PRIA states in the preamble to the code. [1]

Key provisions of the code inlcude:

  • Members shall deal fairly and honestly with their employers, clients and prospective clients, with their fellow workers including superiors and subordinates, with public officials, the communications media, the general public and with fellow members of PRIA;
  • Members shall not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information and shall take care to avoid doing so inadvertently; ....
  • Members shall be prepared to identify the source of funding of any public communication they initiate or for which they act as a conduit." [2]

The College of Fellows, senior PR practitioners, "is the guardian of the PRIA Code of Ethics. The College Council constitutes the Institute’s Ethics Committee. The Committee, or a selected inquiry panel, is charged with investigating complaints or allegations of unethical conduct by members. Its findings and possible recommendations for a penalty are based on to the Board, which determines the ultimate outcome of each case." [3]

PRIA's Positon on Astroturfing

The anti-astroturfing campaign has drawn a response from the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA). The National President of PRIA, Annabelle Warren, wrote in a statement that the organisation "strongly opposes astro-turfing practices" and that members must "adhere to the highest standards of ethical practice." [4]

If that is the case why did PRIA's College of Fellows recently reject a complaint by Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne over the front group, Tasmanians for a Better Future? [5] Warren said she couldn't comment on the case as the PRIA Board was presented only with a recommendation but not the rationale for the College of Fellows assessment. Senator Milne was unavailable for comment. Keith Jackson, from the Sydney PR firm Jackson Wells Morris notes that there has been no response to the anti-astounding campaign by the PR industry "Big Guys" including Burson-Marsteller, Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Porter Novelli. "They say ethics. We see denial," he concludes. [6]

In 2005 PRIA restated its opposition to the use of advertising value equivalency (AVE), a method of calculating the column centimeters of coverage attributed to a PR campaign and multiplying by an advertising rate. While noting that it had first stated its opposition to the method in 1999, PRIA statted that there had been an increasing number of "clients and managers asking for AVE calculations". PRIA noted that "the leading PR research institute in the world, the Institute for Public Relations in the US, describes use of AVE multipliers as "unethical", "dishonest" and "not at all supported by the research literature".[1]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. Public Relations Institute of Australia, "PR industry calls for marketing to reject unethical measurement", Public Relations Institute of Australia website, August 22, 2005.

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