Has CIPR finally lost the plot by honouring Boris Johnson?

I’m seriously wondering if the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has finally lost the plot. I can’t believe it is honouring Boris Johnson MP by awarding him the CIPR President’s Medal.

One of the main reasons that I continue my CIPR membership is because I think it is essential that public relations professionals abide by a code of ethics. The CIPR Code of Conduct says:

Fundamental to good public relations practice are:


  • Honest and responsible regard for the public interest;

How can a man who refers to black people as “piccaninnies” and talks about “water melon smiles” even be considered for an honour by CIPR if it is truly committed to ethical communications that reflect the diversity of the UK? This wasn’t a simple slip of the tongue, but actually appeared in a by-lined article that presumably Boris thought about before writing. How can he be considered to have “integrity” and “regard for the public interest” if can write things like that?

Just for the avoidance of doubt I want to make it crystal clear this isn’t a political statement because Boris is a Conservative MP as I can think of several Tory politicians who are genuinely good communicators and deserving of the honour – not least David Cameron or George Osbourne.

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Stuart Bruce

International Public Relations Adviser | Trainer | Author | Media Commentator | Conference Speaker | University Lecturer | Online PR | Digital Corporate Communications | Crisis Communications | Digital Public Affairs