“…have CEOs of PR firms sign onto a code of proper behavior, that forbids payments to reporters, that mandates transparency on arrangements with third party experts and that bars a media company from having a licensed PR firm in the family. These standards must be enforceable, with the group given power to expel transgressors, then to demand a public apology and remanding of questionable earnings to the aggrieved client.”
At the end of the day, we do need an industry code of ethics backed by some kind of certification standard. You break the rules, you loose your certification. If accountants, lawyers, even sailors can organize this, why can’t the PR industry?
Then what we need is the CEOs of all PR firms to mandate certification for all employees, and for clients to only hire certified practioners. While this will take many years to implement I beleive it would ultimately put us in a better place.
The PRSA and IABC could act as vehicles for certification, but if they aren’t able to do this, maybe it’s time to form a new, independent group to handle this.