The Importance of Ethics and Professionalism in PR

Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” This quote by Potter Stewart sums up the meaning of ethics. As the son of a Pastor, these words have constantly been preached to me my entire life. Acting in an ethical manner was not an option in my home; it was a way of life. As I transitioned into college, I realized that some ethics lessons that I was taught as a child are also essential to having success in the profession that I have selected.

In this blog post, I will be discussing ethics and professionalism in PR. As a student in LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, we are taught the importance of ethics and professionalism in our career fields. As a PR professional, acting in an ethical and professional manner should be a priority. It is important to present yourself as a competent and trustworthy individual. Following the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) code of ethics is expected of all PR professionals. The PRSA code of ethics is designed to help its members carry out their ethical responsibilities. To find out more information about PRSA and its code of ethics click here.

Professionalism is also a necessary quality to have in every career. The standard definition of professionalism is very vague and ambiguous. To see that definition click here. As you can see, I am not a fan of that definition, which is why I created my own definition of professionalism. Professionalism is the act of presenting yourself as a competent, well-mannered and educated individual in the workplace. In the “professional world” you take on a slightly different identity than in your personal life. It is important to act in a professional manner in the workplace and while dealing with clients, because it causes them to respect you. It allows you to create a positive image for yourself. Professionalism is also essential to relationship buliding in the professional world which is a component of success in PR. I discussed the importance of buliding relationships in my previous post about stewardship. If you would like to read that post click here.

PRSA also recognizes the importance of professionalism. Their statement of professional values represents their idea of professionalism. The six professional values are advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyal and fairness. To read more about those values click here.

Ethics and professionalism have been very important during this service-learning project. Working with our client BRAC has shown me the importance of making ethical decisions and acting in a professional manner. If you would like to learn more about the progress that my agency is making on this project continue to follow my blog http:\\ You can also follow our agency on Twitter @SpotlightBR. Also, to find out more about BRAC’s missions and initiatives click here.


One thought on “The Importance of Ethics and Professionalism in PR

  1. I really like your quote about ethical decision-making. I have also come from a religious background that has instilled in me that this type of decision-making is an important part of everyday life.

    I also think you are correct to say that professionalism can strengthen the relationships you build in the public relations field. People are more likely to respect and trust you if you can show them you are professional in your work.

    To me, the hardest part of being a professional public relations student is trying to remain professional in social networking. Here’s a great article about how to be professional in social networking. This article gives good advice about your personal social networking, but it’s also important to remember to be professional and ethical if you are in charge of a company’s social networks. You don’t want to retweet or share information that may offend someone or your customers. The Aurora tweet scandal ( is a perfect example of how social networking can damage your reputation if you are not acting in an ethical way. This business did apologize for their behavior, though, and handled the situation professionally.

    I think we’ve learned a lot about acting professionally from our experience in the classroom this semester, and I hope we can apply this knowledge to our everyday lives. Follow me on Twitter at .

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