Decision on PRINZ Ethics complaint

28 August 2017

A complaint against a member of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) has been upheld by the PRINZ Ethics Committee.

The complaint was laid by PRINZ President Katie Mathison against PRINZ Member and President Elect Sharon Buckland. Ms Mathison complained that Ms Buckland breached the PRINZ Code of Ethics Principle 3. Professionalism, Standard v. “A member shall not engage in irrelevant or unsubstantiated personal criticism”, by using offensive language against a third party at the PRINZ Awards Ceremony on 25 May 2017.

In the decision, the PRINZ Ethics Committee finds that the breach of the code was minor and does not impose any penalty in this case. The Committee notes that the statement made by the member, although a minor breach of the Code, was unprofessional and unwise. For the guidance of members, such statements, whether provoked or not, will inevitably amount to irrelevant and unsubstantiated personal criticism by their very nature.

Panel members for this Complaint were Professor Ursula Cheer, Dean, School of Law, University of Canterbury (Chair), Pauline Rose (Member of PRINZ College of Fellows), and Annette Burgess (Member of PRINZ College of Fellows).

As the country’s largest public relations and communications management industry association, PRINZ sets the standard of ethical behaviour for members through the internationally recognised Code of Ethics, an actionable framework that guides our day to day behaviours and decision making.

As professional communicators, we take seriously our responsibility to communicate with honesty and professionalism, balancing openness and privacy. Any breach of these standards – by a PRINZ member or non-member - reflects poorly on all public relations professionals and brings the industry into disrepute.