PRCA agrees to stick with APPC code under latest merger plans
PRCA boss Francis Ingham will accept the current APPC code of conduct, rather than push his own code.
The proposed merger of the APPC and PRCA would result in one code of conduct based on the current APPC code, the two bodies have agreed.
The decision appears to be a major concession by the PRCA as it looks to win over wavering APPC members to the merger plan. A final decision on the link-up will be taken by APPC members at an extraordinary general meeting on 8 October with a view to the merger coming into effect on 1 November 2018.
A new ‘Memorandum of Understanding Between the APPC and the PRCA’ was published this week setting out the latest merger plans. It states: “The two parties agree that one Public Affairs Code will be created for our industry. The PRCA will accept the current APPC Code as the basis for this new unified code. The Public Affairs Code will replace the existing Codes and apply to all members in their conduct of public affairs.”
Unsurprisingly it has also been agreed that there will be one register, containing “all existing information provided by both current ones” - meaning that agencies will still be required to list all fee-paying public affairs clients as is currently the case. There are no plans to require agencies to declare any further details that would increase transparency, such as fee levels and whether clients are retained on a long-term basis or just short term projects.
The PRCA and APPC have also said that “one disciplinary process will be created, based on the existing structures of both bodies” and that “no current APPC or PRCA member will pay more post-merger than they do at the current time”.
In a further bid to sell the deal to APPC members, the memorandum also sets out a “vision” of how the industry will reap the benefits. It states: “Above all, should the APPC and the PRCA merge, a new, stronger, united voice for the industry will be created. It will have the appropriate professional resource from the PRCA, and the historic credibility and reputation of the APPC. It will be the best-placed organisation to defend the principles we believe in of transparency and ethical standards; and to be able powerfully to promote and defend the industry in dialogue with Government; political parties; and the media.”
A PRCA source claimed that “the deal offers plenty of benefits without anyone losing out” while the APPC is offically remaining neutral - even though chair Paul Bristow presonally supports the merger.
"As chair I will not be seeking to influence either side of the debate. While the management committee has recommended the merger to the membership, it's clear that there are passionate voices on both sides of the argument," said Bristow in a statement.
"My hope is that over coming months the APPC can have a civilised and mature debate about what is unquestionably a pivotal time in our organisation's history. By waiting until October before holding the EGM it will give our members, I believe, enough time to consider the options and come to conclusions informed by all the facts."