Journal of Business Ethics 35 (3):191 - 205 (2002)

Public relations literature laments the lack of a theoretical base for the practice and ethics of public relations. Drawing primarily upon Koehn (The Ground of Professional Ethics, 1994) and Hutton (Public Relations Review, 1999), this paper proposes such a theoretical ground.The paper adopts Hutton's assertion that "the central organizing theme of public relations theory and practice" is relationships(Hutton, 1999, p. 209). It also relies upon Koehn (1994) to provide a theoretical discussion of the nature of professions, and the ground upon which professional ethics and public trust in the professions are based. It concludes, from a Koehnian perspective, that for public relations to move from the expertise and contractual models of practice into a covenantal model as a profession worthy of public trust, the field must devote itself to a defined human good (relationships), and must be grounded in a public pledge to serve this good
Keywords communications theory  covenantal model of public relations  definition of public relations  persuasion ethics  pledge-based professional ethics  professional ethics  public relations ethics  public relations models  public relations theory  theory of professions
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1013876206176
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Commentary 2: A Case of Covert Persuasion.Sherry Baker - 2007 - Journal of Mass Media Ethics 22 (2-3):221 – 225.

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