Professionalism and Ethics in Spark PR

What Are Ethics?


Ethics help individuals to “systemize, defend, and recommend concepts of right and wrong behavior” (Fieser, n.d.). Ethical theories are broken into three main categories:

  1. Metaethics – The study of morality. Looks into the foundation and scope of moral values
  2. Normative ethics – The study of ethical action. It helps to explain questions that arise when considering how one should act morally.
  3. Applied ethics – The philosophical examination of matters of moral judgment. Uses philosophy to choose the morally appropriate actions in daily life.

What about Professionalism?


The concept of professionalism is closely tied to ethics. According to the website of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, “a profession is distinguished by specific characteristics, including master of a particular intellectual skill through education and training, acceptance of duties to a broader society than merely one’s clients/employers, objectivity and high standards of conduct and performance.” The latter part of that definition makes it clear that ethics is essential to defining a profession.

Though it may seem obvious, any profession requires professionals. Adhering to professional behavior simply means doing what is right and developing professionalism as a personal attribute is a great way to move towards an ethical approach to your public relations practice.

Development of Public Relations Ethics

Have ethics and professionalism always been important to public relations practitioners? No, but it is today. This is an important concept for anyone entering into the field to understand.

Edward Bernays introduced public relations to the world. Early on, public relations practices generated many ethical concerns. During this era, practitioners utilized press agentry to generate publicity at any cost. This approach to public relations resulted in the unethical early reputation of the practice. This reputation still lingers over the field. Today’s society often associates public relations practitioners with spin-doctors.

Modern-day public relations practitioners strive for sound ethical behavior in their professional lives. National associations for public relations practitioners have implemented both ethical and professional standards for all practitioners. These standards have helped to reform the public relations practices of old from immoral to ethically sound.

 Resources: Professionalism & Ethics

Many national associations for public relations practitioners provide their members with a code of ethics. This code is meant to serve as a guideline for these public relations professionals. Practitioners can look to these guidelines when trying to decide how to conduct themselves in their professional lives. The PRSA Code of Ethics is a widely used tool for all PR professionals. Private firms often reference this document when creating their business’ code of ethics. The PRSA Code of Professional Standards is resource that educates professionals on the six professional values of public relations.

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Spark PR aims to adhere to the six enumerated values of the profession. We currently serve as advocate for The ALS Association. As advocates, we are responsible for providing the public with honest and accurate information about the organization. We make ourselves accountable for all of actions during the course of the campaign and aim to serve the public interest. We also act within our area of expertise and defer to organizational executives when appropriate.

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) provides public relations students with a code of ethics. Students can utilize this code of ethics when they need assistance in choosing the right course of action. Students can also reference the six professional values when trying to identify the important aspects of the profession.

Members of Spark PR strive to adhere to all ethical and professional guidelines while carrying out our campaign. This commitment to ethical practices will compliment The ALS Association’s own high ethical and professional standards. We hope to build trust and have a prosperous and beneficial relationship with the client.

Follow The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:




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Jessica McAlum, Spark PR research director


Ethics in Public Relations: A Guide to Best Practices (2004). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from,+“a+profession+is+distinguished+by+specific+characteristics,+including+master+of+a+particula&source=bl&ots=yTZsBzun7S&sig=B2T-8iD-NuUGo8yI25FMcHfInOU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjz7LrzpqDMAhXpmIMKHQlYD3sQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=Global%20Alliance%20for%20Public%20Relations%20and%20Communication%20Management%2C%20“a%20profession%20is%20distinguished%20by%20specific%20characteristics%2C%20including%20master%20of%20a%20particula&f=false

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Member Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Statement of Professional Values. (n.d.) Retrieved April, 19 2016, from

Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Member Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from



Spark PR Adheres to Professional Values While Partaking in Service Learning with the ALS Association Louisiana Mississippi Chapter

Blog by: Alyssa Henke, Writing Director

Spark PR’s goal is to ignite a spark in our clients. This semester our firm hopes to bring forth innovation and creativity to the ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter. By working with ALS, our agency is participating in service learning, which means that we are involved in an educational experience that integrates community service. 

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While partaking in this experience, Spark PR hopes to advance our firm’s knowledge and meet the ALS association’s needs. This agency-client relationship involves hands-on experience that addresses our client’s concerns. This hands-on experience will include our efforts to improve and collaborate on the ALS association’s event, Red, White, & Sneaux, as well as in person meetings with our ALS contact person, Jamie Craig. Each member of our firm hopes to contribute his or her knowledge and skills to improve ALS. We consequently hope that each member of our agency can further develop his or her skills and knowledge by learning through this real world experience, and we endeavor to better understand social issues in our community and civic responsibility.

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As Spark PR strives to implement superior services in public relations for ALS, our firm will abide by the PRSA professional values to guide our actions. These professional values set the industry standard for public relations practitioners and are vital to the integrity of this profession as a whole. The six professional values are advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. Spark PR first will act as a responsible advocate for ALS at all times. Spark PR will adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth while promoting the interests of ALS. Our firm hopes to advance the profession of public relations through the research, knowledge and experience we will gain and responsibly use. We will remain objective in our affairs with ALS and provide unbiased guidance. While serving the public interest, Spark PR will remain faithful to ALS. Lastly, our agency will deal fairly with the ALS association, competing nonprofit organizations, competing public relations firms, the media and the general public by respecting all opinions and supporting the right of free expression.

As Spark PR partners with ALS, each member of our firm aims to overcome obstacles and create opportunities in order to further his or her skills and ultimately be able to obtain the top 10 competencies employers look for according to the Korn Ferry/Lominger Model. Although each member of our group brings his or her own spark to our group as a whole, we hope that we can individually acquire all ten competencies by the end of this semester. The competencies employers want are for employers to be action oriented, know how to deal with ambiguity, be creative, have good decision quality, solve problems efficiently, motivate others, plan, prioritize, think strategically, and manage time. By providing ALS with creative and individualized solutions, we hope this nonprofit can give us insight to ourselves and teach us how to be the most efficient public relations practitioners.

Follow ALS Association Louisiana-Mississppi Chapter:

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Member Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved February 04, 2016, from

Center for Community Engagement, Learning & Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved February 04, 2016, from

Center for Community Engagement, Learning & Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved February 04, 2016, from