ICCO announces Helsinki Declaration for ethical behaviour at ICCO Global Summit 2017

The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) has called on the worldwide PR industry to stand by 10 principles of ethical behaviour, at the ICCO Global Summit in Helsinki.

The principles, named the Helsinki Declaration, have been launched today, aimed at uniting the global PR industry under a single banner of ethical behaviour. It takes into account the increasing influence of PR around the world, and the considerable dangers associated with unethical behaviour.

The Helsinki Declaration stands for the importance of PR work that is ethical and in the public interest; that is truthful and respectful of privacy; that does not cause offence; and that upholds the reputation of the industry. It also points to the dangers of “astroturfing” and fake news; and the potential for misuse of social media.

The Helsinki Declaration builds on the framework outlined in the Stockholm Charter, which was adopted in 2003 and replaced the Rome Charter, originally adopted by ICCO in 1986. The Stockholm Charter lays out a code of professional standards that aim to define our industry.

Speaking at the ICCO Global Summit, Francis Ingham, Chief Executive, ICCO, called on members, non-members, and other PR communities to stand in support of the Helsinki Declaration: “My firm conviction is that the PR industry is fundamentally a very ethical one. But I know that in this era of ever increasing transparency, we will be scrutinised more and more, and judged on our behaviour rather than just our words. The Helsinki Declaration is an important step forward for us as we prepare for those increased levels of scrutiny – a simple, easy to follow statement of ethical practice. Principles that are as applicable in Singapore as in Paris, London, New York, or indeed anywhere else around the globe. These are ICCO’s standards -judge us and our members by them.”


The Helsinki Declaration


Mindful of the considerable and increasing influence and importance of public relations, ICCO members commit at all times to abide by the following 10 principles:


1.                   To work ethically and in accordance with applicable laws;


2.                   To observe the highest professional standards in the practice of public relations and communications;


3.                   To respect the truth, dealing honestly and transparently with employees, colleagues, clients, the media, government and the public;


4.                   To protect the privacy rights of clients, organisations, and individuals by safeguarding confidential information;


5.                   To be mindful of their duty to uphold the reputation of the industry;


6.                   To be forthcoming about sponsors of causes and interests and never engage in misleading practices such as “astroturfing”;


7.                   To be aware of the power of social media, and use it responsibly;


8.                   To never engage in the creation of or knowingly circulate fake news;


9.                   To adhere to their Association’s Code of Conduct, be mindful of the Codes of Conduct of other countries, and show professional respect at all times;


10.               To take care that their professional duties are conducted without causing offence on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, origin, religion, disability or any other form of discrimination.


We invite ICCO members and organisations, non-members, and other professional public relations communities to join in support of these principles.