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In the field of public relations the only thing that may even come close to a standard is the code of ethics offered by the Public Relations Society of America. Practitioners who are not members of PRSA are not required to follow the code.

With only 6 percent of the industry registered as members, this means only a minority perceives the code of ethics as a standard. There is no universal committee that monitors public relations practitioners and the code has no legal bearing. If a practitioner decides to break one of the codes there are minimal, if any, consequences.

The lack of standardization in the field may be the reason why some practitioners "spin" the truth. It is only illegal to present false truths that harm the general public. The law does not say it is illegal to bend the truth.

Mary Ann Pires of the Pires Group said she is not happy with today's public relations practitioners. She said there are too many practitioners out there who are not demonstrating a high level of professionalism. She said even though we are not considered a profession like doctors, lawyers or accountants, this should not deter us from practicing as ethically as possible.

"Are we any worse than accountants or doctors or lawyers where ethics is concerned? Probably not," Pires said. "But, somehow, given our talents, I think we should be better. More influential on behalf of honest communications."

Thomas Bivens argues that it is not just the talents of public relations practitioners that should lead to professionalism, but their ethical principles as well. He believes that when trying to establish a universal code of ethics, one must consider that each practitioner has a different standard of values and ethics. He said that ethics and professionalism couldn't be separated when talking about public relations.

"The public relations function has sought to fulfill its aspirations by exerting an ethical and moral force, as well as technical skill, and by doing so, developing an identity and a professional discipline of its own."

Bivens contends that in order to be deemed professional, one must practice in an ethical manner.

In order to create a more positive image for the industry, PRSA revised their Member Code of Ethics in 2000. There were many complaints, prior to the release of the new code, that the old code had too many loopholes for practitioners to leap through.

O'Dwyer PR Services Report stated that it believed "the society ditched its 50-year old cycle and its elaborate judicial process in 2000 because the code was unevenly applied."

The PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards said the statement presents the core values of PRSA members and, more broadly, of the public relations profession.

Though the code of ethics is not enforced as a standard for practice, many public relations educators are encouraged by PRSA to teach the code to their students as a basis for decision-making.

 


The lack of standardization in the field may be the reason why some practitioners "spin" the truth.

 

 

 

 


It is not just the talents of public relations practitioners that should lead to professionalism, but their ethical principles as well.

 

 

 

 

 


Though the code of ethics is not enforced as a standard for practice, many public relations educators are encouraged by PRSA to teach the code to their students as a basis for decision-making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
   

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