Lesson 1: Understanding Ethics & The Profession


This lesson is an introduction to public relations ethics. We begin by defining what we mean when we use the word "ethics."

Ethics matter. The lapse of ethics in many of the leading institutions has produced a global decline in trust. As public relations is an industry that relies on trust to build mutually beneficial relationships, ethical fortitude is a paramount concern as evidenced by the growing body of scholarship focused on the establishment and use of ethical decision-making models. There have been several theories and ethical decision-making models proposed which provide great value to the public relations profession.

First, however, it is important to understand what is meant when using the term ethics. Simply put, ethics are a process of determining right from wrong. Heath and Coombs suggest that proper ethical choices will “foster community by creating, and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships.”

Next Page: Understanding Ethics As a Decision-Making Process