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 on Values and Competencies in Public Relations

Written By: Maria Connolly, event director

Spark PR holds itself and its clients to the highest standard of ethics. Professionalism values and competencies stretch beyond the agency and into the individual lifestyles of employees and clients. The PRSA Member Statement of Professional Values defines the core values of PRSA members and of their profession. Below are the six values that Spark PR adheres to and how we apply our agency to these values.

Spark PR serves our current client, ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter, by acting to positively brand their nonprofit. We advocate to the community to share facts about ALS and to inspire those within reach.

Our agency holds itself to the standards set by PRSA to promote the truth and deliver accuracy about our clients to the public.

Spark PR moves toward knowledge and experience in all industries. We believe that this benefits our publics and enhances our brand.

Spark PR understands the consequences of our actions and the actions of our clients and promises to provide counsel to the nonprofit when needed.

Our agency understands that loyalty to our clients should be priority. The health of each of our agency-client relationship stems from each agency representative’s ethics education.

Spark PR recognizes the freedom of speech and all forms of public expression. We also adhere to equality with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, media, and the public.

In addition to these core professional values Spark PR prides itself on diversity of clients and audience. We believe that this is important to understand the needs of those producing and receiving this message as well as providing it in a clear and appropriate channel. Transparency is necessary to ensure past, present and future clients and agency wellbeing. produced a great article about the valued benefits a PR agency can offer a business most importantly stating that most business owners see their potential market as black and white.  PR agencies see the shaded grey.

By applying theories in presenting images and information, Spark PR is able to conduct and apply related research to the clients’ campaign. By engaging in this research, the audience gives our agency the tools we need to provide our clients with everything they need to succeed. This research is seen in different forms dependent of the information the client is seeking about its key publics. After our agency conducts extensive IRB approved surveys, we evaluate the responses to give strategic feedback to the client.

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Image courtesy of PRSA.

As a new public relations firm, Spark PR realizes that we may not have all the answers to our client’s problems, but we do have the tools and resources to work as a team and solve these problems to the best of our ability.

To find out more about the ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter:





Maria Connolly, event director


Measuring the Value of PR: Want to know what effect media coverage is having on your business. (2006). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Member Statement of Professional Values. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from