NEW YORK—In the wake of a new book by Scott McClellan in which the former Bush administration press secretary admits his role in misleading the American people on numerous issues, the Public Relations Society of America is calling for government reform and challenging the 2008 presidential candidates to adopt principles in line with the PRSA Code of Ethics to guider their communications policies.
Jeffrey Julin, president of Denver-based MGA Communications and current chair of PRSA says the McClellan book raises “critical issues about the role of public relations professionals and ethical obligations.”
Under the PRSA Code of Ethics, professionals should:
· Investigate the truthfulness and accuracy of information released on behalf of the officials or management represented;
· Provide professional counsel on the inherent ethical requirements of the public trust;
· Confront officials or management if there is a suggestion of potential ethical violation; and,
· Evaluate employment status if, despite their efforts, they are placed in a coercive position to lie, mislead or obfuscate.
“Public relations professionals, including presidential spokespeople, armed with a Code of Ethics, must be part of the information-generating and policy-making team—that is, they should have a seat at the table with senior officials or management to ensure open and transparent communications and to serve the public interest,” says Julin. “Communications professionals can present the Code of Ethics as the basis for behavior by the officials, management or others they may represent.”