Chapter 4 acknowledges the Code of Conduct of the Advertising and Market Communication Section of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (https://www.wko.at/branchen/information-consulting/werbung-marktkommunikation/verhaltenskodex-lobbying-public-affairs.html) and undertakes to comply with the following regulations:
Part I: General Regulations of the Code of Conduct
Representation and exchange of interests are essential elements of a functioning and vibrant democracy and must be promoted in the interests of all those involved in the process of shaping framework conditions. As a communications service provider and public affairs agency, we therefore assume a reciprocal mediation function between business, politics, administration and civil society that is important in terms of democratic policy. This work of mediating information and interests requires a high degree of personal integrity, socio-political sensitivity and transparency in the performance of this profession.
The corresponding ethical and moral framework to which we subscribe comprises the Code d'Athene (ethics) and the Code de Lisbonne (standards of conduct). An important motive here is a trusting dialogue between the communication partners. Dialog with the public is preferable to one-sided information. In addition, the European Commission and the European Parliament agreed on a joint code of conduct on the European Transparency Register in May 2011.
This sends a clear signal of transparency and quality to policymakers, civil society, clients and the interested public.
Area of application:
This Code governs our conduct in communications and public affairs activities. The Code does not impose any restrictions on specific projects, companies or processes, but is based on all our activities in our professional fields.
Lobbying activities within the definition of § 7 LobbyG include all structured organizational and communicative efforts by companies, interest groups and groups or individuals to influence public institutions such as legislation, government and administration in the EU, the federal government, the states and the municipalities with the aim of representing and enforcing interests.
These activities are a legitimate form of democratic political activity, based on rights guaranteed by constitutional law and open to everyone provided clear rules are observed. Strategic communications and public affairs make an essential contribution to the preparation, management and communication of political decisions.
The activities covered by this Code of Conduct are core activities of advertising agencies and PR consultants and thus part of professional communications and information management.
Strategic communications and public affairs bear social responsibility and must respect the rights, interests and feelings of individuals and groups of people, the economy as well as the community:
- They must be characterized by the principle of social responsibility.
- They must be legally permissible and strictly comply with legal standards.
- They must comply with the principles of fairness as generally recognized in business life.
- They must not be contrary to generally accepted good morals.
- They must not violate the principle of honesty and truthfulness.
- They shall not be misleading.
- They must not violate the right to privacy.
- They must be clearly recognizable as such.
The reference framework to be applied in particular for this purpose is formed by the general and special provisions concerning anti-corruption, bias and incompatibility. Any means that helps to present strategic communication and public affairs as a legitimate form of democratic political activity is welcomed.
Part II: Special Regulations of the Code of Conduct
Article 1: Veracity
Commitment to veracity towards clients, political institutions, legislative and law enforcement bodies, policy makers, the media and the public: we pay attention to transparency and disclosure, especially regarding financial support to initiatives, and avoid any misleading by using false, incomplete or misleading information. In the exercise of our professional activity, we disclose our principals in whose name or on whose behalf we act.
Article 2: Confidentiality
Commitment to confidentiality: We treat discussions with representatives from politics and administration as confidential, unless expressly agreed otherwise. Confidential information from current or former clients or employers will only be disclosed with their express consent. We do not accept the representation of competing or conflicting interests.
Article 3: No undue influence
In order to articulate and pursue interests, we do not exert any unfair, improper, inappropriate or illegal influence on functionaries, in particular neither through direct, nor indirect financial or other material incentives. In the event of an order in this regard, such an order will not be carried out by us and the client will be informed of the reasons why the order cannot be carried out.
Article 4: No discrimination
We undertake not to discriminate in any way in our professional activities, in particular on the basis of origin, gender, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation, or to participate in any conduct that constitutes discrimination.
Article 5: Respect
We treat all clients, colleagues, competitors, interlocutors and other contacts with respect and undertake to respect and, where possible, promote their professional and personal reputation.
Article 6: Incompatibility
For us, the exercise of our professional consulting or representation activities within the meaning of § 7 LobbyG is incompatible with a mandate in the Austrian Parliament (National Council and Federal Council) in one of the provincial parliaments and in the European Parliament.
Article 7: No professional damage
As a matter of principle, we avoid activities that damage the public image of the Professional Association of Advertising and Market Communication and its members.
Article 8: Remuneration agreement
We undertake not to agree on any unreasonable remuneration for our activities and to conclude a remuneration agreement with our respective client before commencing our activities. We neither offer nor accept remuneration agreements that are exclusively or predominantly performance-based.