Lesson 2: The PRSA Code of Ethics

A code of ethics symbolizes the professionalization of a field or practice. In order to be accepted as a professional endeavor, public relations needed to have a code of ethics.

In a 2013 study, Yang and Taylor examined 36 countries and found that all but one had professional codes of ethics for the public relations field. Further, 36% of these countries had codes of ethics that affected accreditation and/or licensure of professionals in the industry. Based on their wide-ranging research, Yang and Taylor confirmed that robust codes of ethics, along with other factors, can help the public relations industry contribute positively to the development of democracy.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) created its first code of ethics in 1950, about fifty years after the practice started to be professionalized with the Publicity Bureau. Over the years, the code has changed considerably, often influenced by the context of modern culture and particular trends within the field.

Next Page: History of the PRSA Code of Ethics