The PRSA sent this response to my post requesting that PR clean up its industry.
Notionally, we support this call to action, as we do any effort that helps advance the public relations profession. However, PRSA's main mission as a membership organization is professional development and education. We have focused our efforts and resources on providing our members and the broader public relations industry with ethical guidance, best practices and resources that help them perform their jobs ethically, rather than engaging in punitive measures for those who fall afoul. To that end, there are laws that address the mass sending of commercial e-mails, but PRSA is not set up as a legislative body.
Since 1950, PRSA has had a Code of Ethics that reflects the differences between right and wrong in the profession, and it is routinely updated to address modern challenges and concerns affecting the media, public relations professionals, the public, businesses and various other publics that are impacted by public relations. You may have seen our recently unveiled Social Media Policy, part of which offers our members and the broader profession best practices concerning blogger relations.
Our mission is not to kick people out of PRSA for ethical lapses. Using ethical missteps as educational tools is far more beneficial from our point of view.
Arthur Yann, APR
Vice President of Public Relations
Public Relations Society of America
I understand the PRSA's stance. But its code of ethics lacks two tenets that I'd like to see:
- PR people should carefully target emails to groups interested in their clients products, services, and ideas.
- PR people are responsible for maintaining a list of people who have requested to be removed from mailings, and should not email people on that list.
And I wish someone (and politically, it appears it's not the PRSA) would certify this.