If someone were to look up the definition of ethics they would find that it means the moral philosophy and principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior. This is classified as the general perception of what ethics is in society. In the public relations discipline, ethics is considered to be things including different values such as honesty, openness, loyalty, fair-mindedness, respect, integrity, and forthright communication. Being that public relations is the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company, different organizations, and people ethics and being ethically responsible plays a key role in this profession.
In the article Professional Corporate Practice (Pre-1986) the general idea about ethics and the public relations aspect explained that the rules of conduct is especially pertinent in the practice of a profession since professions generally receive licensure from governmental agencies. Mason (Pre-1986) said “there is a responsibility to sever both the public interest and the profession in the highest manner.” Meaning that going about the way you conduct yourself ethically in your profession is one of a top priority. This article just brings up the history on ethics and how it has been around for a long time now.
From research by Bowen (2007) she documented the following: “In the US, early public relations practices introduced many ethical concerns because the press agentry (J. E. Grunig & Hunt, 1984) approach prevalent then emphasized hyperbole, sensationalism, and often lacked truth. The so-called “father of public relations,” Edward Bernays, called this time period of 1850-1905 “the public be damned era” (Cutlip et al., 2006). Press agents were concerned with generating publicity at almost any cost, and this approach engendered the unethical reputation of modern-day public relations. Ethics as a consideration entered the development of modern practice in about 1906, with prominent practitioner Ivy Lee’s declaration of principles. His declaration moved the practice into “the public be informed” era with his emphasis on telling the truth and providing accurate information.” This began the evolution of ethics and PR, so that there were clear principles for the profession.
On the PRSSA website there are different sections in which the PRSSA Code of Ethics/Conduct is stated. The Public Relations Student Society of America guidelines were modeled by the parent organization, PRSA. It was created to help members navigate ethical principles and applications, which is regarded as the industry standard.
Bowen, S. A. (2007, October 30). Ethics and Public Relations. In Institute of Public Relations. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://www.instituteforpr.org/topics/ethics-and-public-relations/
Mason, E. (1970). Professional corporation practice–ethics and public relations. New York Certified Public Accountant (Pre-1986), 40(000012), 988. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/214540019?accountid=39473
PRSSA, . (2010). Public Relations Ethics Guidance for the Future Practitioner. In Public Relations Student Society of America. Retrieved from http://www.prssa.org/about/advocacy/ethics/