CO 350: Contemporary Perspectives in Public Relatons: Blog Post 9: PRSA Code of Ethics

The PRSA Code of Ethics


  1. Which of the values do you think was violated in your malpractice case?

Answer: In the incident of the Mad Cow Disease scare in the United States in the early 2000s, the value that is most violated in this malpractice has to be the value of honesty.  The public relations professionals involved in flooding the public with information about the safety of beef products and how the wasn’t able to enter U.S. beef, denying that our beef could get it shows dishonesty in the fact that anything could happen.  If the United States cannot be honest and say that is as vulnerable to diseases such as Mad Cow, why do the people of the United States trust our government and the people who run the government? Being honest also includes coming to reality when a situation occurs, and admitting that something could happen.


  1. Which item in the code of provisions was violated in your malpractice case?

Answer: The code of provision dealing with competition was violated in the Mad Cow disease malpractice.  The reasons that the United States was denying the fact that it’s beef could get the disease shows it wanted to stay one of the top competitors of beef exporters in the world, saying we do not have to treat our beef for Mad Cow disease in order to ship it to your country.  Countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada are put in danger of losing their beef buyers to the United States because of the U.S. claim that its beef could not get mad cow disease.  If public relations professionals wanted to be honest with their foreign countries, they would have to be fair in competition and come out and day that their beef is just as vulnerable to the mad cow disease.



“Parkinson’s Critique of the PRSA code” (Mycampus file)


  1. What did Olasky claim was the purpose of an Ethics code?

Answer: According to this article by Parkinson, Olasky claimed that the code of ethics were created only to serve the purpose of creating a positive image of the public relations professions for those outside of the profession.  In other words, to appear as professional as other professions in society, most professions follow some sort of code of ethics, and set standards for all of those in the same profession.  If public relations could create standards for itself as a profession, then it would receive the same respect and positive light as other professions in society.


  1. What did Wright claim was the purpose of an Ethics code?

Answer: According to Parkinson’s article, Wright claimed in a similar way that the code of ethics in the public relations profession, or by the PRSA, was created to make the profession look better in the eyes of society, rather than using the code of ethics in a serious manner to “control or describe their professional conduct.” If any professional can say that they follow standards and be a respect professional, then the public relations professionals should find the same meaning and consequence in using a code of ethics.


  1. Why does Parkinson think that the PRSA has an Ethics code?

Answer: According to Parkinson, the PRSA has an Ethics code that is used to give a positive perception of public relations practitioners by the general public.  The belief by Parkinson is that the PRSA developed an Ethics code to wipe away the idea of scholars and teachers who fear that the public relations professionals possess an unethical perception from the publics.  Parkinson also believed public relations professionals wanted a code of ethics to recognize there exists professional obligations.


  1. Acccording to Parkinson, the PRSA code is about
    1. Image
    2. Professionalism
    3. ethics



  1. According to Parkinson, “for one to be a member of the public relations profession one must have professional obligations that . . . .” what?

Answer: According to Parkinson, “for one to be a member of the public relations profession one must have professional obligations that supercede ethical obligations imposed on persons or publics outside the profession.”  In other words, Parkinson is stating that if the public relations profession wants to have a professional perception amongst observers outside of the profession, the profession of public relations must build an even stronger foundation on a code of ethics that is not just developed by one group of practitioners in the profession, but has shared definition and standards for all of those in the profession.  Also, the code of ethics must be geared even more toward the profession of public relations, especially talking about the key components of what public relations professionals do that is almost universal in the entire profession. Therefore, Parkinson suggests that public relations as a profession should separate from the PRSA personal ethics of its individual practitioners.


  1. According to Parkinson, how are attorneys and public relations practitioners similar?

Answer: According to Parkinson, attorneys and public relations practitioners are both advocates for clients.  Attorneys work in the court of law and are key for their client’s communication to advance the interest of their client.  Public relations practitioners play a similar role in advancing their client’s interests by communication through a court of public opinion.  Both of the professions use communication to try and benefit their client even more than what the client can do for them selves. Other similarities in both professions include the proper presentation and accuracy of facts, but also have restrictions on the content and form of their communication.


  1. In law, the “Cannons of Professional Responsibility” are
    1. A code of professional ethics
    2. A code of personal ethics



  1. According to Parkinson, what does the PRSA code pledge lack?

Answer: According to Parkinson, the PRSA code pledge lacks any mention of any obligation to a client.  Of course, when Parkinson compares the PRSA code pledge to that of an attorneys pledge, the attorneys pledge focuses on the professional status of the attorney and their relationship with the client.  Parkinson is trying to point out that the public relations profession is not even including a key term and area within its profession; the idea of creating and maintaining a relationship with a client or client organization should be a token public relations practitioners should pledge to when serving as a professional practitioner of the public.


  1. Explain the difference between “homo economicus” and “homo politicus”

Answer: “Homo economicus” refers to the idea that people focus on themselves and think only about their interests and beliefs to make decisions that only attempt to “maximize personal benefits.”  “Homo politicus” refers to the idea that people focus on decisions that have the greatest impact on the public and not their maximum personal benefits.  These are the differences between these two terms. 


    1. How can “homo economicus”, in the end, work for the good of all

Answer: The idea that “homo economicus” could work for the good of all, is that if everybody makes decisions in self-interest, in a collective way, society will make an ultimate decision for society.  The comparison that is made in Parkinson’s article is that of elections; if people at least act upon and vote, and ultimate decision is made as to who will run the country for the next four years. 


    1. Which of the two does the legal profession practice?

Answer: The legal profession recognizes the practice of “home economicus.” In Parkinson’s article, if both parties act in the self-interest of themselves, evidence and other testimonies will allow for the ultimate truth to be turned up by the proceedings of the court. The attorney who does the most work and finds the most evidence to prove that their client is did enough to be the winning one in the eyes of the law, then in the end, the client should win their trial.


    1. Which of the two is the PRSA code based on?

Answer: The PRSA code is based on the idea of homo politicus.  The PRSA code takes on an obligation to public interest; therefore, the client’s interests are not fully maximized because the obligation lies in the interets of how the public is responding to the client organization.  PRSA has a code that watches that balance between client interest and public interst that is overlooked by a court of public opinion.


    1. According to Parkinson, what are the weaknesses of “homo politicus,” especially as it relates to PR?

Answer: The weaknesses of “homo politicus,” especially in its relation to public relations is the idea that a professional cannot attempt to advocate for two interests with the same amount of power and energy because there exists no balance of power, and therefore, the losing party is that of the public relations professional.  Another weakness in public relations is the idea of acting for public interest is seen as taking a standard of personal ethics over professional ethics; professional ethics calls for the professional to have the client interests overrule the public interest. 


  1. According to Parkinson, what is the legal dilemma of the PRSA code?

Answer: The legal dilemma of the PRSA code, according to Parkinson, is the prioritization of the obligation to the client does not legally work with professional standards.  Several parts of the PRSA code conflict which include the idea of open communication in making a democratic decision (which follows the code of professional standards) conflicts with another part of the code talking about the idea of a requirement of the free flow of information to serve the public interest.  Other legal dilemmas include a client’s rights to protect trade secrets and to rights of privacy, therefore, there cannot be the free flow of information, which conflicts with the PRSA Code. 



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