Journalism 4470- Ethics in PR

Ethical PR:
An Oxymoron to Some, Reality to Others

What is an Ethic?
Ethics can be described as a moral code of conduct used to guide decision making. Commonly, professionals are required to learn, memorize and follow a code of ethics or suffer consequences. However, some ethical codes are easier to reinforce than others.

In PR, codes of ethic may be taught and encouraged, but some feel they are not enforceable and have little or no influence on PR personnel. Inability to enforce regulations causes many to dismiss PR as a profession. Organizations such as the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) and The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) are dedicated to gaining respect and building a positive reputation for PR.

Ethics and Organizational Membership
PRSA and IPRA both have a code of conduct/ethics. Common themes in both codes are honesty, loyalty, transparency and integrity.

Organizational Membership is encouraged, but not required, to practice. A grey area lies here. Are PR professionals with no organizational affiliation required to follow ethical practices? Yes. Like other professions, PR professionals are required to maintain honest dealings with clients and employers while serving public interest.

What’s the Purpose?
Unethical practices taint the public’s perception of PR, strip credibility and require honest PR professionals to defend their craft. “The public relations business itself is badly in need of better public relations (Time, p.1).” Ethics are building blocks to a better reputation and respect for a growing field.


By: Angel Bell

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