MADRID — A number of PR trade associations have agreed to set up a global taskforce that aims to raise ethical standards across the industry following the Bell Pottinger scandal.

The meeting in Madrid drew representatives from ICCO, the Global Alliance, the IABC, PRSA, PRCA UK and PR trade bodies from Africa, Ireland, Canada, Spain and Portugal. It was also attended by Edelman CEO Richard Edelman who has emerged as a high-profile advocate for better ethical standards in PR.

Pointing to the "crisis in trust", a statement from the participants notes that the meeting explored enhancements to individual association codes of conduct. 

"A task force of the organizations involved will examine in detail the building blocks that currently exist in how practitioners should practice public relations," reads the statement. "We believe there is value in having a single set of principles and behaviours that everyone can promote. This will not replace existing individual association codes but will provide an agreement on an overarching set of principles."

Participants also "recognize the need to launch a campaign around the importance of a trustworthy practice of public relations" but there is no further information as to whether such an effort will actually take place.

ICCO recently released a 10-point guide to ethical PR behaviour at its 2017 global meeting, while the various associations all have differing codes and guidelines on ethics that its members are expected to adhere to.