Shining a Light on Dark Tactics: Disinformation, Climate Litigation, and the PRSA Code of Ethics


A body of deceptive communication on climate change from some in the energy sector has attracted the attention of policymakers and dozens of courts, presenting a textbook example of how PRSA’s Code of Ethics can guide practitioners to act responsibly and ethically as they represent their clients, employers and our profession.  

The PRSA Code of Ethics addresses disinformation, an activity that can undermine democracy and block progress on the most pressing issues of our time, so the Code is critical to the future of our profession. PR professionals, when faced with nuanced ethical issues, must have clarity about what to do and how to handle unethical requests and behaviors.

Given the potential for deception, what is the ethical exposure for practitioners when an employer or client wants to spread disinformation? Under the Code of Ethics, what are our obligations to the public, to clients and to our fellow practitioners? Public relations professionals need to be aware of these important issues and their implications for the good of the publics we serve and the careers we all hope to have. 

This PRSA Learning Webinar will illustrate past and present examples of public communications from energy companies and apply the PRSA Code of Ethics to specific campaigns and communications. We’ll describe shifts in public perception around climate change and introduce the audience to legal complaints against fossil fuel companies by state and local governments.

Participants will leave with:

  • An understanding of the Code of Ethics as a tool to challenge disinformation.
  • Alternative communications strategies with which to counsel clients.
  • A list of concrete screening questions to ask prospective employers.
  • Information to improve climate and energy literacy.


Accreditation Information

Participants with the APR credential earn 0.5 CEUs for a webinar.




57 minutes


Communication Strategy, Ethics, On-Demand, Webinar