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Since 2000, PRSA leaders have said that the ethical practice of public relations is the most important obligation of PRSA membership. The PRSA Code of Ethics presents values that should underlie ethical public relations practice. Code provisions guide members in making ethical decisions. The PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards provides online resources to help members think about ethical issues and understand the PRSA code.

Ethics Officer

Each PRSA chapter is to have an Ethics Officer. The Ethics Officer is not an enforcement official. He or she is an advocate for ethical public relations and a resource for ethics training throughout the year. The Ethics Officer, working with members of the PRSA College of Fellows, is available to help chapter members answer ethical questions.

The Blue Ridge Chapter’s Ethics Officer is Douglas Cannon, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA.

Ethical Decision-Making Guide

Ethical dilemmas can arise when responsibilities and loyalties conflict. PRSA encourages members to follow a standard six-step process in applying the PRSA Code of Ethics to questions of everyday practice.

  • Define the specific ethical issue or conflict.
  • Identify internal and external factors (legal, political, social, economic, organizational, personal) that may influence the decision.
  • Identify key values that apply to the situation.
  • Identify parties the decision will affect, and define your obligation as a public relations practitioner to each one.
  • Select the PRSA Code of Ethics provisions that will guide your decision.
  • Make a decision, and justify it.


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