Maxim Behar Provides Guidance On How To Embrace AI In PR Ethically.

At the 2023 ICCO Global Summit in Warsaw, the members officially ratified 'Principles for Ethical Use of AI in PR.' These principles emphasize transparency, accuracy, privacy, and more in AI-powered PR. AI should complement, not replace, our human expertise.

At the 2023 ICCO Global Summit in Warsaw, the members officially ratified the ‘Principles for Ethical Use of AI in PR.’ These principles emphasize transparency, accuracy, privacy, and more in AI-powered PR. AI should complement, not replace, our human expertise.


Host: Now, other than getting inspired by our young leaders, we’re going to talk about a core issue we brought up earlier a few times: ethics, how to practice, and how to leverage AI with ethics. For that, I will bring three Steam members here to talk about ICCO’s principles on AI and guidance. So, let’s welcome Christina Fosgard, the founder of NetProfile, to the stage. Mary Bass West is the senior strategist of Fletcher Marketing PR, and Maxim Behar is the CEO and chairman of M3 Communications. All right, guys, so tell us. We’ve been listening to a lot about AI and ethics. What is ICCO?

Maxim Behar: It’s the only panel without moderators because we are moderators.

Christina Forsgard: We are all moderating ourselves. Let’s see how we can do it. So, Maxim, you have so much institutional knowledge of ICCO, with your long leadership track record with this organization, and just from your having seen so many of the sessions today and hearing what everyone has to say about a lot of these topics, what are your thoughts in light of that, of the fact that ICO is now trying to take a lead role in providing some guidance to the industry?

Maxim Behar: ICCO, throughout the years, has been a leader in the ethical issues in the industry. But today, we should emphasize natural intelligence much more than artificial intelligence. Because if we don’t have innate intelligence, we cannot cope with artificial intelligence if we don’t have this deep inside. About 25 years ago, I wrote the first business ethical standard in my country, Bulgaria. And I went throughout the country and many other countries promoting business ethics 25 years ago. A lot of people were asking me what business ethics is. And then I said it’s straightforward, ladies and gentlemen, making profits transparently. Because we are in business, we should make profits, pay salaries, and develop our business. If we do this transparently, then it’s straightforward. And this is the same with artificial intelligence today, 2023. I think our business has three big groups of ethical issues. First of all, it’s corporate. I mean, how do we behave to our team’s education? How are the relations within the teams? How do we motivate young people? How do we cope with Generation Z? Many people are complaining: young people are lazy, young people are this and that, whatever. And then I very often tell my company, you know, you should know that they will not change. We should change. So, it’s also an ethical issue. It’s a moral, professional issue that we should change to behave differently to the young generation. Then, we have experienced ethical issues, attitude towards our clients, the way we deal with our clients, and the orders we take from our clients, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, sometimes in Africa and Asia. It could be shaky because sometimes clients might not be the best ones we work with. And then, sorry to say this, but recently, we also have political and ethical issues. I mean, Ukraine, Russia, and all those events happening in the world, we cannot be entirely out of that. From that point of view, we decided to write a book with Kristina. The book is called “The Power of Trust”. And, of course, Mary Beth also is participating in the book. We initially started discussing it with Mary Beth and then decided to develop it with Christina. I left you some brochures all over the chairs. If you want to participate in this book, your opinion is welcome mainly because we want to present a global picture of ethical issues. Ethics is also a matter of culture and different histories in different countries. So, I hope the book will be on the market by the end of the year. Your opinion matters in this book because we should clearly understand what ethics means in different parts of the world and other businesses.

Christina Fosgard: Max had so many points there, and the study that Mary Beth has been working on has significantly, very good insight. And one of the most serious situations in our industry is often a reticence about even talking about ethics. And it touches every single thing that we do in our industry. Every issue that has been brought to this stage today has had a tremendous ethical underpinning to it. All these elements of ethics codes have to be brought to bear on that.

Maxim Behar: You know, Christina, my huge experience shows that whatever codes we have, we have principles, strategies, everything written on paper, whatever we do, if we don’t have this internally and if we are not transparent, then it will not work. Together with the late Francis Ingham, we created the Helsinki principles, you remember 6 7 years ago, and they were very good at the time, ten points, like Christina this year. We will continue doing this, but the most critical issue is transparency because social media brought us openness and the ability to be ethical and honest and do our business properly. You know, many people were asking me what corruption is. In those countries, corruption is always questionable. I was saying: “It’s so simple. Corruption is that if you receive a present like an expensive pen or watch and dare to share it with me, it’s not corruption. But if you hide this, it’s something illegal or suspicious, so things should be straightforward. They depend intensely on our souls and professional attitude to clients and our teams, which are very important.

Mary Beth: Maxim, one thing that I wanted to ask you, that you made earlier, this really good comment about the younger generation coming up, and very often it’s the students ultimately who teach the teacher. A little bit later on. I think that professional development and all of us, regardless of how many years we’ve been in the industry, staying current not only with these trends but also becoming co-students in other disciplines to an extent and learning more about the essentials of some of the technology and of course a formal like this allow us all to do that. Could you speak about this professional development and the importance of those of us in the industry to stay current with many of these trends? I know that you run a relatively large company with, you know, I’m sure, professional development training; all of that is a massive part of it. 
 Maxim Behar: You know, Mary Beth, I am a firm believer in the new generation. Again, many people complain they don’t understand them, but this is an entirely different generation that grew up with social media, transparency, and fast communications. So, I think we have all the circumstances to have this generation with us and develop a completely different communication business. And just one sentence to conclude, I want to say. It is not a finish. It is not the end of our conversation about ethics; it is just a start. You can write us, three of us. We are probably the easiest to access through social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, whatever. Write us, and please make your donations to the book, send your articles, send your opinions, and all of them will be published. Thank you very much for your attention and Bon Appetit.


You can see the entire interview here.

You can watch the full interview on

»All articles