One would assume the six different public relations code of ethics would be very similar to each other.

The compared codes of ethics were:

  • Arthur Page Society
  • Council of Public Relations Firm
  • Global Alliance for Public Relations and communications Management
  • International Association of Business Communications
  • National Investor Relations Institute
  • Public Relations Society of America

After thorough research I found that some of the codes don’t have a set of standards for several core values, principles and practice guidelines.

The different codes were evaluated on the following principles:

  • Honesty
  • Advocacy/Expertise
  • Independence
  • Loyalty
  • Fairness
  • Free Flow of Information
  • Competition
  • Disclosure of Information
  • Safeguard Confidences
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Enhancing the Profession
  • Obligation to Code
  • Enforcement of Code

The Arthur Page Society has the least set of standard guidelines. They don’t have any set code for independence, fairness, free flow of information, competition, disclosure of information, safeguard confidences, conflicts of interest, obligation to the code or enforcement of the code. I suppose it’s not to say that any individual that belongs or follows their seven principles to guide actions and behavior are any less ethical than one who follows the PRSA.

The PRSA Code of Ethics supplies you with a more thorough model for professions, organizations and professionals. There is a reason why the PRSA Code of Ethics is referred to as the industry standard. They have a set clear-cut standard for each of the 13 principles. Their codes reinforce their beliefs on making sure you are representing your client fairly and always with the truth.

The Global Alliance was another code that stood out. Not only did they have few guidelines like the Arthur Page Society, their decision on honesty is to “adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interest of the clients and employers” not the public. They were the only code studied that interpreted honesty that way. The Global Alliance also doesn’t have any guideless for the free flow of information. These two points concern me that someone following this code might not be able to make the right ethical decision.

Before doing this research I was under the impression that the PRSA was the only society that enforces their code by educating members for accreditation. I think the fact the International Association of Business Communicators and the National Investor Relations Institute also participate in the implementation of code shows there are more ethical business practitioners than I thought.

After all, these codes of ethics aren’t formal laws or rules they are a set of standards that individuals decided to hold themselves to. None of them are right or wrong, they just provide different perspectives on decision making. Personally, I’m going to follow the Public Relations Society of America Code of Ethics. I agree with their set standards on professional values, principles of conduct and holding members to an agreement with required compliance.