The PR code of ethics: words to live by

As PR professionals, we know there is a code of ethics to follow and it has recently become newsworthy topic. In the blog post A PR Professional’s Code of Ethics, Wendy Marx starts with an anecdote about several bloggers who were invited by a PR firm to test out authentic Italian food, but instead were served their client’s brand of frozen meals. This was misleading to the bloggers and a misrepresentation of the firm and their client.

Another example given in the post mentioned how a firm representing Facebook said some harsh words about Google. There should never be a case where a company belittles another company in a public forum. Although both organizations apologized for their mistakes, PR representatives need to remember the code of ethics so that they do not tarnish the integrity of the PR industry or create an unreputable name for themselves.

In the article, Marx reminds us all of the Public Relations Society of America’s code of ethics,

  • 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.

As people who work in a business setting we always need to have these guidelines in the back of our mind. The stigma of PR being a way to “manipulate the public” is something we should all be working against. Try printing out the PRSA’s code of ethics and keep it at your desk as a reminder of the values on which a business should operate.

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