PR Ethics and the Law


Ethics is basically concerned with how we should live our lives and your moral obligation to stand up for what you believe. Oftentimes we find worlds colliding, questioning personal and professional ethics, and in the corporate world, it’s up to the PR practitioner to make the call. The main concern with media today is the question of the degree of honesty a person presents when reporting.

Dishonesty can definitely destroy your credibility.

I think today, bribery is a big issue to overcome, because people are always willing to pay someone off for saying or doing something specific. That’s why organizations like PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) promote responsibility in public relations. Core values set the standard for anything that happens and create guidelines to safeguard the industry. Dishonesty is easy to occur when trying to put “spin” on something, but it needs to be done in a way that upholds the truth and is not deceptive.

Different elements of the law keep PR practitioners accountable for they’re actions as well. Corporations are considered “public figures” because the actions of the company, as a whole, present a specific image to the public.

 Engaging in specific activities reflects the company and its values and can either help or harm those who come in contact with them.

 Laws against defamation, libel and slander, issues of copyright, and infringement all affect the day-to-day activity of a company’s decisions.

I think some of the biggest issues to overcome are trademark law and other regulations.

People want to create ideas based on ones that are already successful in hopes that they will be successful as well.

Even more, they create campaigns that are deceptive and misleading, all for the sake of making an extra buck. The Federal Trade Commission actually has jurisdiction over such campaigns and upholds companies to their duty to be honest. PR practitioners should be aware of their decisions and how it can affect the outcome of their business as well as the ones they’re supporting. In the process, ethical questions should be raised to determine if their actions support their own important values and standards.


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