Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.
Code of Ethics
Many of us have worked for a company or organization. Some have even held a position where we were required to represent that company or organization in a professional manner. But how many of us have really stopped to think about what 'professional manner' really means? What values and beliefs are we to abide by?
In order to provide clarification of what is expected, many industries have a code of ethics that explains what values and beliefs those professionals representing the industry should follow. In this lesson, we will learn about the code of ethics that those in the field of public relations need to understand and follow.
Qualities & Characteristics
Obviously, it's common sense that if you represent a company, organization, or industry, you must act professionally and not do anything that would dishonor those you represent. But what qualities and characteristics should people in the public relations industry pay close attention to?
To answer this question, many in the industry look to the code of ethics of the Public Relations Society of America and the Society of Professional Journalists. Both code of ethics present core values based on truth, independence, accountability, and respect. These values are what every public relations worker should use to help make good decisions and maintain professional behavior:
This means providing accurate and truthful information. When communicating with the public on behalf of a company or organization, it's crucial that public relations professionals are honest.
Since a public relations professional works as an advocate for the public, it is important to provide the public with pertinent information so that people can make informed decisions. For instance, when presenting information to the public, it's important to provide views from different sides and/or people, as well as all of the relevant facts.
This means doing research and using critical thinking in order to maintain credibility as an expert and a trusting relationship between the company and the public. In order to communicate accurate information, public relations professionals must do their homework.
This simply means that public relations professionals take responsibility for their own actions when representing a company or organization. After all, accountability is essential to ethics.
A public relations employee should respect and maintain loyalty to the company for which he or she is working. That allows the employer to rest assured that the public relations professional is working in the best interest of the company.
Everyone has their own views and opinions. As an individual working in public relations, it's important to respect all of those different views and opinions. It's also important to remain fair to all of those you work for and with, so that each person feels free to express their thoughts.
Improper Conduct: Examples
Now let's look at some ways a public relations professional might violate the code of ethics.
A jewelry company gives a public relations professional a diamond watch so that she will write only good things about the company in a press release. This is improper conduct because a public relations professional has accepted a gift meant to influence her opinion. This means the public relations professional might not write the truth but instead only write good things, even if they are not true.
A public relations employee, John, holds a press conference in which he states false negative information in order to hurt those that compete against the company he represents. His goal is to steal customers away from the competitor. It's important that public relations professionals always behave honestly and fairly. By spreading untrue rumors, the competition is not given a fair chance to compete.
While looking over the company pamphlet, Miranda, a public relations professional, notices that the information seems exaggerated. Instead of researching the information further, Miranda decides to assume the pamphlet is correct and leaves it as is. This is a violation of the code of ethics, because public relations professionals should utilize critical thinking and research to ensure information is accurate. Leaving in false information is misleading and a poor demonstration of expertise.
While holding a press conference, public relations employee Alex states that a new toy is safe for infants, even though it has been proven unsafe for children under the age of six months. This is a violation of the code of ethics, which states that a public relations professional should work as an advocate to the public. This means providing complete and accurate information so that the public can make an informed decision based on facts.
Public relations professionals communicate with the public on behalf of a company. In doing so, they need to abide by standards and values so that they represent the industry in a professional manner. The public relations code of ethics, which are the essential characteristics and qualities of a public relations professional, include: advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty, and fairness.
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