CODE OF CONDUCT
As a system of moral principles and rules of behaviour, code of conduct is the totality of laws guiding members of
any organisation for maximum ethical performance. It sets the expected and acceptable standards for members. The attitudes
of the members and the philosophy of the profession are also set out in the Code of Conduct. It is based on the reputation
and image that members create for their profession in discharging their duties that the publics form their opinion on the
moral standing and their ability to deliver. Therefore the rules and regulations as stated in the Code are the principles
of practitioners that govern or influence members’ character in their professional dealings. The Code stands as the
regulator or gauge of members’ performances and promise of high standards of professional practice to the society.
From the foregoing, therefore, the Code is a set of laws or rules arranged in a system for the benefit of members on
their day-to-day activities. Every profession, even associations, have guiding principles and regulations binding on their
members, what is expected of them in their job and also their responsibilities to the society. The Codes, which are referred
to as ethics of the profession, spell out the “dos” and “don’ts” for the practitioners.
The essence of the laid down principles is to further create goodwill and promote understanding between the practitioner
and the public on one hand, and between the profession and the system operating in the society on the other hand. It projects
its positive image as a reliable, responsible and supportive body. It also serves as security to its members, who may be victimised
or unjustly treated in their professional calling.
The NIPR, like other related professional bodies, has its Code of Conducts that must be observed by all its registered
members. Even though there may be similarities between its principles with those of other international bodies like the Institute of Public Relations, London, International Public Relations Association
and public Relations Society of America,
it is also unique for the fact that it is recognised by the law of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Basically, the codes of professional conduct and ethical standards are formulated to guide members on their responsibilities
to the following:
(a) Profession - It promotes the standing
and the good character of the body. This is through the observance of all the positions of the body and its interest. Every
association has a reason for its existence which includes protecting its integrity and credibility in its dealings and the
control of its members through the rules and principles by which the body is governed. Adequate information dissemination
towards a better-informed society is paramount in the profession, just as the observance of highest ethical standard and morality
is cardinal duty for every member. Respect for the moral principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and freedoms
regularly features in most of the codes of public relations bodies. It is by adherence of the members to these that the reputation
of the profession is guaranteed and promoted.
(b) Employer/colleague - The regulations
charge the members on the best way and manner to maintain loyalty and relate
with the employers and clients who seek for their service, so that a mutual relationship exists where no one is at a disadvantage.
Practitioners also should not be a threat to each other in the performance of their duties. The colleagues may be staff on
other schedules or professional colleagues who may not be in the same environment. Maintaining high confidentiality with respect
to secret documents is also vital. Disclosure of some privileged information could be criminal and make the culprit liable
to prosecution. Members are therefore barred from such disclosure. Double-dealing which may be in conflict with the interest
of the employer/client falls in this category unless with the employers/client’s expressed permission.
(c) The Public - This includes the general
public and method of communicating with them. The officer is requested to observe civil, appropriate and acceptable norms
in his interaction with the public. It also includes the media and other external public, including other professions. There
is legislation against mistrust, betrayal of trust and lost of confidence. Members are enjoined to operate in conformity with
the statutes while weighing the interest of the employers against that of the public when there is a conflict of interest
before taking any action. The media who are the appropriate channel of communication should be treated with deserved respect
and be fed with the truth avoiding distorted and wrong information which the profession abhors. Due respect must be given
to others’ rights and views, for balanced assessment.
FEATURES OF ETHICAL STANDARDS
(a) Legality: It serves as a legal instrument
which can be cited for settling disputes, resolving conflicts and also for sanctioning erring members who violate the codes.
It is an enforcement apparatus on members. It derives its strength from legislative regulation in practice - that is in conformity
with state laws.
(b) Simplicity: Even though it is intended for professional members, the language and style of its writing are devoid of legal and
professional jargons. It is flawlessly written in the appropriate and understandable words, which is appealing and informative
for the benefit of members and non-members alike. It is stated in such a way that it may not require further interpretation
(c) Brevity: It is said that brevity is the
soul of wit, so the code of the ethic does not run into volumes. It briefly covers all the dimensions of ethical norms of
the profession. It is short and comprehensive with all the codes standardised in articles or charter for ease of reference.
(d) Adjustability: Like any law including the constitutions and decrees, they are flexible for ease of amendments
whenever necessary due to societal changes. Apart from the Holy Scriptures which have divine inspirations, all man made laws
are subjected to revision, amendment and improvement.
(e) Credibility: The Code of Conduct is a
source of pride and legitimacy for its members. It creates goodwill and boosts the image of the body as a responsible, reliable
and respectable organisation. Its credibility may be at stake if it is contradictory, self-centred, grammatically and factually
inaccurate and lacking the authority for enforcement.
(f) Practicality: The rules should be such
that members can abide by it and work within stipulated regulations without any difficulties.
Good rules that are not applicable or practicable may not see the light of the day and end up not being obeyed.
(g) Supportive: No matter how credible it
is, it must serve the interest of the profession and its members at all times and also not be detrimental to other parties.
It must nevertheless promote healthy competition where anybody can prove his/her worth.