PRINZ comments on unethical behaviour


Recently there have been several high-profile instances of “PR people” behaving disgracefully: Hit’ jobs case: PR consultant apologises and promises cash to settle defamation case that came from Dirty Politics and Kiwi entertainer Mika X sentenced to home detention for attempts to derail rich-lister’s trial.

Until now, the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) adhered to a policy of not commenting on the behaviour of individuals who are not members of the Institute. However, in response to requests from PRINZ members to publicly call out the behaviour of the few individuals that call themselves “PR people” but do not behave in accordance with the industry norms, PRINZ has today changed its stance.

Public relations is defined as ‘the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding and excellent communications between an organisation and its publics’. 

It does not involve hit jobs, defamation, paying people off or silencing victims to help criminals. These activities would be in breach of the PRINZ Code of Ethics – specifically sections:

1.4 to “Avoid deceptive practices.”

3.3 and 3.4 to “Counsel colleagues on ethical decision-making” and “Decline representation of clients or organisations that urge or require actions contrary to this Code” respectively

4.1 and 4.2 to “Promote open communication in the public interest wherever possible” and “Respect the rights of others to have their say.”

5.2 to “Abide by the laws affecting the practice of public relations and the laws and regulations affecting the client.”

To call or describe these people and their companies as ‘PR people’ or a ‘PR firms’ is a gross misrepresentation of what ethical public relations professionals do.   

Public relations is not a regulated industry – anyone can call themselves a PR practitioner – but real PR professionals are committed to ethical practice that is truthful and accurate, aims to build credibility and relationships, provides objective counsel, serves the public interest, provides a voice for informed public debate.

Members of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand agree to abide by the Institute’s Code of Ethics. You can find a live register of more than 1300 ethical public relations professionals here.

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