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Guidance for the Future Practitioner

Successful public relations hinges on the ethics of its practitioners. As a future professional, it is essential that you uphold the highest ethical standards. PRSSA promotes ethical practice by asking members to adhere to the PRSSA Code of Ethics and Conduct and encourages all Chapters to have members sign the pledge upon joining the organization.

Professional Values

Advocacy - We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts and viewpoints to aid informed public debate.

Honesty - We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.

Expertise - We acquire and responsibly use specialized knowledge and experience. We advance the profession through continued professional development, research and education. We build mutual understanding, credibility and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences.

Independence - We provide objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions.

Loyalty - We are faithful to those we represent, while honoring our obligation to serve the public interest.

Fairness - We deal fairly with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, the media and the general public. We respect all opinions and support the right of free expression.

PRSSA Code of Ethics and Conduct

I pledge to conduct myself professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness and responsibility to the public, fellow members and to the Society; to improve my individual competence and advance the knowledge and proficiency of the field of public relations; and to adhere to the articles of the Member Code of Ethics and Conduct by the PRSSA National Committee.

I understand and accept that there are consequences for member misconduct, up to and including membership revocation.

I understand that members in violation of the PRSSA Code of Ethics and Conduct may be further barred from PRSA membership.

PRSA Code of Ethics

PRSSA models its ethics guidelines after those of its parent organization, PRSA. The PRSA Code of Ethics was created to help members navigate ethical principles and applications, and is widely regarded as the industry standard. For further reference, see the PRSA Code of Ethics Pledge. For information about specific ethical dilemmas and issues, you can view the PRSA Professional Standards Advisories.

PRSSA Ethics Competition

This competition was created to get students engaged and learning about ethics in a fun, competitive manner. In order to compete in this competition, you must address the following about the case below.

  • Identify the ethical issues and/or conflicts.
  • Determine internal/external factors likely to influence your decision.
  • Choose key values that apply.
  • Consider parties who will be affected by your decision and evaluate the public relations professional’s obligation to each one.
  • Select ethical principles to guide your decision making.
  • Make a decision and offer a brief rationale.

Your decision and rationale should be written in the form of a newsletter to an executive of the company and should be no more than 500 words. All questions and submissions should be emailed to by December 3, 2021.

Good luck to all!

The Case: Ethical Use of Interns

As director of public relations for a major pharmaceutical company, you are under increasing pressure to show measurable results with a limited budget. The CEO asks you to develop an effective campaign to engage public support for the company’s application to the Federal Drug Administration for approval of a new drug. Research shows the new drug to be highly effective at controlling asthma for children and to have no known side effects.

As one of your key tactics, you plan a series of community meetings for parents. Your CEO is pleased with the tactic. You have an unpaid intern, working for class credit and public relations experience, who has completed course work and is looking for a job in a tight market. He wants public relations experience that will benefit his job search but you have not yet given him meaningful tasks that will help him build his skills. He has been answering the phone and filing while you have been out of the office in meetings for hours at a time. You don’t have the budget to hire a mailing service or temp to get the invitations out, track RSVPs or check-in guests at the informational meetings. You want to assign the job to the intern.

Should you do this?