Ethics: More than a code, it’s action


Whether you are a fellow public relations practitioner, or an organization considering how PR can help you achieve your goals, there is one constant baseline for evaluating what makes a professional or agency good at what they do: ethics.

The national Public Relations Society of America has built a Code of Ethics into its Member Statement of Professional Values, holding accredited practitioners to the highest ethical standards. Those standards are pivotal in guiding the role PR plays in a larger business or project plan.

PRSA Member Statement of Professional Values

PRSA Member Statement of Professional Values

PRSA defines their Code of Ethics with six fundamental values:

  • Advocacy
  • Loyalty
  • Fairness
  • Honesty
  • Independence
  • Expertise

Furthermore, they must be adhered to as a whole in guiding behaviors and decision-making processes. Practitioners can’t pick certain favorites and ignore the rest. Each value must be practiced regularly to sustainably uphold the integrity of the public relations profession and inform the work we’re doing.

If we look at these values through the lens of our experiences in 2020, we have some serious questions to ask ourselves as an industry. Are we being responsible advocates for those we represent, while honoring what’s in the best interest for the publics we serve? Are we taking steps that maintain unity, restart our economy and protect lives, or are we combatting what is best for moving our communities forward in a healthy and safe way? Are we being objective, honest and accountable for the actions we take? Are we including the opinions and experiences of communities of color to promote fairness and doing our best to create a more inclusive and welcoming world? Are we being truthful?

We continue to learn and practice what we need to do to maintain a solid ethical foundation for our work. But every small or large step we take to uphold PRSA’s six fundamental values helps raise the level of our profession and our personal integrity.

Each year, PRSA celebrates September as our annual reminder of the Code of Ethics we pledge to support and follow when we join the public relations industry. In the midst of one of the most challenging years our society has faced, we must do more than simply observe the importance of acting ethically — we must commit to continually practicing it, especially in the face of a global pandemic and racial injustice.

Ethics matter only when they are routinely acted upon. That’s why Martin Waymire is proud to have an entire team whose members believe in and live up to PRSA’s Statement of Professional Values, and five members of our team who have achieved their Accreditation in Public Relations. It’s why we’re passionate about organizations taking ethical steps and actively working to make Michigan a better place. And it’s why we join with our fellow PR colleagues to celebrate – and commit – to practicing ethics in the work we do every day.