Ethics FAQ

  • What is the PRSA Code of Ethics and where can I find them?

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The PRSA Code of Ethics is “designed to be a useful guide for PRSA members as they carry out their ethical responsibilities.” They include the main tenets of the Code as well as Provisions of Conduct, which further explains each principle and scenarios that they may apply to. You can find them on the PRSA website at https://www.prsa.org/ethics/code-of-ethics/

  • How can the PRSA Code of Ethics apply to me as a student?

Learning the fundamentals of ethical dilemmas will help you prepare for tough situations in the future. It’s easy to point out the shortcomings of brands and companies but it might not be as clear or distinct from the other side. We cannot only continue to educate ourselves on these principles but teach others how to be proactive and avoid conflict. PRSSA students are rising leaders in the public relations profession. We have an obligation to the profession, the Society and ourselves to be ethical. We need to be confident in our ability to be effective and socially responsible professionals. We need to be proud as ethical PRSSA students.

  • What resources does PRSA/PRSSA offer as resources for ethical dilemmas?

PRSSA hosts Ethics Month in September to emphasize ethics as a conversation in the profession; however, ethics is always at the forefront of what PRSSA does. We share and produce content that educates students while recommending them to use PRSA resources. PRSA hosts an Ethics Month in addition to PRSSA but offers counsel in many other forms. They have a Board of Ethics and Professional Standards, which provides advice to members and the Society on ethical dilemmas. BEPS implements Ethical Standards Advisories, Ethics Moments and monthly blog posts to educate and inform PRSA members. Finally, they commit to an Ethics Pledge, which is available for all students to sign. More information can be found at https://www.prsa.org/ethics/

  • What are some common issues that students could look at today and learn from?

Multiple issues have arisen with the emergence of social media and technology. This is a great go-to topic to talk about because it affects us all. We now have to deal with privacy rights, viral content and a competitive news industry. There is even more pressure to be punctual yet accurate. Other issues are more internal and subtle such as when an employer or boss asks you to perform a task that conflicts with the PRSA Code of Ethics. Ethics is present in the world around us. Open your Twitter feed and challenge yourself to explore where the PRSA Code of Ethics could come into play.

  • Who should I go to as a student about an ethical dilemma?

Definitely check out the resources mentioned above. If you are still having trouble answering a question, seek guidance from a mentor or professional in your community. This means professors, administrators, past employers, etc. (This is a benefit of having a mentor, especially within PRSA.) If nothing is resolved, please reach out to PRSSA officials who can direct you to the best resource.

  • Is there more than one code of ethics?

Yes. Many professional societies within the industry have a code of ethics that they follow. Although the PRSA Code of Ethics applies to public relations, many of the same themes and principles transcend across sectors such as in telecommunications and journalism. Examples include the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Please reach out to Ashleigh Kathryn, vice president of professional development, with more questions at vpprofessionaldev@prsa.org. Stay tuned for more Q & A’s with the Podcast With The Pros Ethics Month edition!

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