Protecting integrity and the public trust are fundamental to public relations professional role and reputation. Successful public relations hinges on the ethics of its practitioners.

To help members navigate ethics principles and applications, the PRSA Code of Ethics, which are widely regarded as the industry standard. Members pledge to core values, principles and practice guidelines that define their professionalism and advance their success.

The Code, created and maintained by the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), sets out principles and guidelines built on core values. Fundamental values like advocacy, honesty, loyalty, professional development and objectivity structure ethical practice and interaction with clients and the public.

Translating values into principles of ethical practice, the Code advises professionals to:

  •     Protect and advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information.
  •     Foster informed decision making through open communication.
  •     Protect confidential and private information.
  •     Promote healthy and fair competition among professionals.
  •     Avoid conflicts of interest.
  •     Work to strengthen the public’s trust in the profession.

Code guidelines, like tactics supporting strategies, zero in on putting value and principles into play for working professionals facing everyday tasks and challenges. Among them, professionals should:

  •     Be honest and accurate in all communications.
  •     Reveal sponsors for represented causes and interests.
  •     Act in the best interest of clients or employers.
  •     Disclose financial interests in a client’s organization.
  •     Safeguard the confidences and privacy rights of clients and employees.
  •     Follow ethical hiring practices to respect free and open competition.
  •     Avoid conflicts between personal and professional interests.
  •     Decline representation of clients requiring actions contrary to the Code.
  •     Accurately define what public relations activities can accomplish.
  •     Report all ethical violations to the appropriate authority.

Addressing Practice Challenges
Digging even deeper, BEPS takes on current practice issues and challenges in periodic Professional Standards Advisories (PSA's). Applying the Code to specific scenarios, BEPS has addressed practices including:

  •     Pay-for-play journalism.
  •     Anonymous Internet posting, “flogs” and viral marketing.
  •     Front groups.
  •     Disclosure of payment of expert commentators.
  •     Truth in wartime communications.
  •     Overstating charges or compensation for work performed.


To read the PRSA Member Code of Ethics in full, click here.


To read the 2012 PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter Bylaws, click here.