Ethics and PR

When working in public relations an individual’s personal and professional ethics can be combatting forces. What may be considered morally competent for someone personally may not align with the social responsibility of their profession or the situation reversed. In the article “PR Ethics and Reputation: PR Professionals Are Not “Yes Men” When Pressured to Be Unethical, New Baylor Study Finds” reports how a study was done on the strained relationship between personal and professional ethics. “Researchers did in-depth interviews with senior public relations professionals in the United States and Australia, with an average of 27 years of experience. All but three had served as the chief public relations officers in their organizations, which included corporations, nonprofit organizations and government entities; and two of those also provided counsel in their roles in PR agencies for their clients as external counselors,” (Daily Dog, 2013). What the study provided was how individuals in these positions were at lost for with their personal ethics in a professional environment.
As is stated from the Daily Dog, “Speaking up on sensitive ethical issues required courage, study participants said. A few were fired or demoted for refusing to do something that was blatantly unethical; two resigned when their advice was rejected, including one who refused to include false information in a press release,” (2013). This calls into question the social responsibility of companies to their employees and pressure to cross ethics lines. What are put on the line are a public relations professional’s credibility and a limiting factor for their position being views of the role of public relations.
The role being public relations is just an extension of a marketing department. This is further examined in the study, “About “the End of Public Relations” and the Integrated Model of PR,” by Sandu Franza “They are mostly concerned with the fact that public relations have not succeeded in becoming a separate domain able to enjoin itself among other domains. According to these critiques, public relations are meant to be swallowed either by marketing, or by other sub-domains of communication sciences. Thus we are induced the idea of an “end of public relations,” (Franza, S., 2009). This study describes a new integrative approach in a globalized world for the continued growth of public relations role with ethics as a main
Component. “The ability to engage in ethical reasoning in public relations is growing in demand, in responsibility, and in importance. Academic research, university and continuing education, and professional practice are all attending more than ever to matters of ethics. The public relations function stands at a critical and defining juncture: whether to become an ethics counselor to top management or to remain outside the realm of the strategic decision making core. How we choose to respond to the crisis of trust among our publics will define the public relations of the future,” (Bowen, S., 2001).


Bowen, S. A. (2001, October 30). Ethics and Public Relations – Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved from

Daily Dog (2013, January 17). PR Ethics and Reputation: PR Professionals Are Not “Yes Men” When Pressured to Be Unethical, New Baylor Study Finds. Retrieved from
Frunza, S. (2009). About “the End of Public Relations” and the Integrated Model of PR. Journal Of Media Research, (5), 3-16.


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