Professional Codes of Ethics in Public Relations

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

All professionals are expected to adhere to standards of integrity, accountability, and good judgment. Explore the code of conduct for public relations professionals, as well as examples of unethical behavior. Updated: 12/22/2021

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.

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  • 0:04 Code of Ethics
  • 0:42 Qualities & Characteristics
  • 3:00 Improper Conduct Examples
  • 4:46 Lesson Summary
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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:

1. Honesty

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.

2. Advocacy

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.

3. Expertise

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.

4. Independence

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.

5. Loyalty

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.

6. Fairness

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.

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