In 1986 the Rome Code was adopted as the industry guide for public relations firms. The Rome Code was outdated by time and practice and required updating.
This new ICCO Stockholm Code constitutes its replacement. It is our hope and expectation that by defining sectoral standards we are taking the initiative to define the business environment of our companies and the expectations of Governments, companies and workers in the markets in which we operate. We've simplified the language, removed areas that encourage ambiguity, and focused on the behavior that should be expected of a professional.
This new ICCO Stockholm Code defines professional standards for public relations firms, which do not coincide with personal convictions or national ethical norms, rules and laws. It does not describe how all public relations consultants currently work, nor does it cover every possible situation. It is only as mandatory as common sense allows, but it does not describe how ICCO member companies should behave and act.
The ICCO Stockholm Code sets out common attitudes towards a number of important issues, namely:
The standards are written in short sentences but cover a broad line of thought. Each country is invited to adopt these standards for its own Market and to add sections as long as they do not contradict either the letter or the spirit of the ICCO Code.
A Code must clearly be designed to work and this one is no exception. If any member demonstrably fails to comply with these rules, they should be asked to rectify that situation. If you do not do so within a reasonable time, you may be asked to leave ICCO. In the first instance, complaints and violations of the Code will be considered by the Secretary General.
As the public relations profession evolves, so must standards. While these are not set in stone, they should provide guidance for our companies and the development of our industry.
Communications and Public Relations consultants are companies that provide professional services that help clients influence opinions, attitudes and behavior. In parallel with this influence comes responsibility towards our customers, our employees, our profession and society in general.
Communication and Public Relations consultants cannot have interests that could compromise their role as independent consultants.
They must approach their customers objectively, in order to help them adopt the best communication strategy and behavior.
An open society, freedom of expression, and a free press create the context for the public relations profession.
The consultants work within the framework of an open society, obey its rules and work with clients who adopt the same philosophy.
Trust is at the heart of the relationship between the client and a communications and public relations consultant.
Information that has been provided in confidence by a customer and that is not publicly known should not be shared with others without the customer's consent.
Public relations consultants must not knowingly mislead an audience with factual information, or the interests that a client represents.
Consultants should make all their best efforts to strive for accuracy.
Achievement of Goals
Consultants should work with clients to set clear expectations in advance about the outcome of their efforts.
They must define specific objectives for the communication actions and then work towards fulfilling those goals.
Consultants must not offer guarantees that are unreasonable, or that compromise the integrity of the communication channels.
Consultants can represent clients with conflicting interests.
Work for a new conflicting client should not begin without providing the existing client with the opportunity to exercise any rights inherent in the contract between the client and the consultant.
Consultants can refuse or accept a job based on the personal opinions of company managers or the organization's focus.
Business and Management Practices
In contacting all audiences, communication and public relations consultants must adopt an ethical behavior and implement the best known business practices.