By: Bianca Smith

Ethics and professionalism are applied to some degree in all careers, no matter the field or location. These two principles should be rooted within each company’s foundation and have an overall indication on the performance of the internal environment. As we at Elevate understand, the principles of ethics stretch far beyond the workplace and affect personal decision making as well. In short, ethics are necessary to consider in all aspects of life.

So what are ethics?

According to an article published by Santa Clara University, ethics can be divided into two different definitions. First, ethics is the reference of right and wrong, changing from person to person and impacting their decision making and what they “ought to do.” This definition is the one people recognize the most as it alludes to someone’s fairness, virtues etc. Second, ethics is the study of someone’s standards. These standards stem from laws and social norms and require individuals to examine their own moral compasses.

However, within the public relations industry, the ethics that are applied to our daily practices resort from the second definition. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the code of ethics serves as a guide and a helpful set of rules that should determine how we operate within the PR industry. PRSA’s code of ethics hold all public relations professionals to a higher standard not only for their own good but for the good of their clientele and their target audiences.

A code of ethics cannot ensure a healthy internal environment with a positive output without an inkling of professionalism.

Professionalism is a harder philosophy to pin down, and an article in U.S. News describes this perfectly. According to the article, professionalism is not something taught in school, rather it’s something a person picks up based on his or her own intuition stemming from observations. In another article by, professionalism is “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.” The article also breaks down the key factors of professionalism: specialized knowledge, competency, honesty and integrity, accountability, self-regulation and image.

All of these components are key to signifying a strong sense of professionalism and not only foster a strong relationship with a PR professional’s clientele, but it also serves as a minor component affecting the company’s overall reputation. Professionalism goes hand in hand with keeping your firm’s reputation and your personal reputation in mind.

Elevate Communications has been demonstrating and living up to these values and principles since day one of our campaign project. Working with Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana has taught us many things about professionalism and client relations. We have also learned the value in building a relationship around strong communication and mutual respect. Elevate has utilized PRSA’s code of ethics to deliver a campaign that has succeeded in raising awareness and funds for our nonprofit client.

Ethics and professionalism go hand in hand. Both of these philosophies contribute to the firm’s overall performance and reputation among clientele and future clients. When a PR professional has a strong sense of professionalism and a solid ethical base, there is no limit to how much good can be accomplished.

Works Cited:

Photo credit:

Professionalism: Developing this Vital Characteristic. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2015, from

What Does it Mean to be a Professional at Work? (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2015, from

(n.d.). Public Relations Society of America.

What is Ethics? (2010). Retrieved November 23, 2015, from