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Maria Genevive Louise S.

The Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) is the countrys premier organization for
public relations professionals.
In its roster are practitioners who represent business and industry, government, non-profit
organizations, hospitals, schools, hotels and professional services among others.
PRSP is a non-stock, non-profit organization established on February 19, 1957 by leading PR
practitioners in the country.
The Societys mission is to advance the practice of public relations by (1) uniting those engaged
in the profession; (2) encouraging continuing education of practitioners; (3) generating public
confidence in the profession by promoting high ethical practice and encouraging high standards
of public service; (4) playing the active role in all matters affecting the practice of public
relations; and (5) strengthening the relationships of public relations professionals with
employees and clients, government at all levels, educators, with media and the general public.
PRSP Board of Directors & Officers 2014 2015
Bong Osorio
Edwin Galvez
Ron Jabal
Malou Tiquia
Juris Soliman
Internal Auditor
Lou de Guzman

Dante Velasco
Rochelle Hilario
Malou Espina
Yoly Crisanto
Elpi Cuna
Charlie Agatep
The History of Philippine PR
Many Philippine PR practitioners trace their roots back to the 1880s, when the Philippines was
seeking colonial reforms from Spain. (Spain colonized the Philippines from 1565-1898.) The
writers and activists at the time, including Jose Rizal, who is now considered our foremost
national hero, wrote influential works that triggered the Philippine Revolution. According to
Culbertson and Chen, this Revolution is widely known as the first successful challenge by an
Asian people against their Western colonial masters.

Manila, the capital (and my home)
But the PR industry didnt blossom in the Philippine archipelago until after Manila (the capital)
was liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945. With the return of the Philippine press, and
the sudden success of business pages and business sections, several firms were prompted to
assign people to handle press relations, and, later, full-fledged PR.
It was a man named Jose A. Carpio who really developed the theory of PR in the Philippines.
Carpio, now known as the Father of Philippine PR, saw PR as far more than publicity. He saw it
as a planned program of policies and behavior designed to build public confidence in and
understanding of an individual or an organization. In 1957, Carpio founded the Public Relations
Society of the Philippines. The PRSP would soon singlehandedly spur the growth of Philippine

PR through seminars, training programs, workshops, awards, contacts, publications and
networking. The organization also introduced a four-year PR curriculum, which was approved
by the Ministry of Education and Culture, to several Philippine universities.
PR in Philippine Government
PR has become a very important part of Philippine government. Filipino PR practitioners
understand that strategic government PR creates awareness and generates acceptance of
public policies and programs. It also projects an image of good, legitimate governance.

Ex-President Ferdinand Marcos
But PR has never been more prominent in Philippine history than during the Marcos years
(1965-1986). From the time martial law was declared in 1972 untilMarcoss presidency was
forcibly ended in 1986, the government put on a massive and sustained propaganda campaign,
locally and worldwide. The emphasis was on ensuring sustained U.S. government and military
The success of this campaign was due to Marcoss well-funded nationwide media structure. The
two succeeding governments of Presidents Aquino andRamos maintained the monolithic
government media and information system (Culbertson and Chen, 1996). Today, three
broadcast networks and a newspaper chain still remain under government control.
The Philippine Anvil Awards
Like the Public Relations Society of America, the PRSP hosts annual Anvil Awards, an awards
ceremony that recognizes outstanding programs, projects and PR techniques. The ceremony,
according to Culbertson and Chen, is known as the Oscars of Public Relations. A campaign to
save the Philippine eagle won the coveted Grand Award in 1993.
Culbertson and Chens Summary of Philippine PR
According to Culbertson and Chen, PR is a concept from the West that has been transplanted to
Asia. But Philippine PR has drawn its sustenance from its own soil. Philippine PR practitioners
have been faithful to their culture, making PR in the Philippines relevant to Filipinos

especially when the government is involved. Culbertson and Chen say that Philippine PR is self-
propelled, dynamic and professional.


1 Conduct our professional way of life with the interests of the public as our basic and
primary guide.

It is the responsibility of the PR professional to make sure his employer or client has done or is
doing everything possible to make their products, services and operations as safe and risk-free
as possible, and in the case of accidents, to help and compensate the victims one way or the
other. Once he is sure this is the case, he must see to it that this is made immediately and
widely known to the public to prevent or minimize any further damage and to allay fears or
concerns on their part.

But what if the PR professional finds out that his employer or client has really been amiss in
ensuring the safety of its operations and its products and services, and refuses to do anything
about it? Worse still, the PR counsel is ordered to lie to the public on what the real situation is.

In that case, the ethical and honorable thing for a PR professional to do is resign from the
company or give up the account. I know this is easier said than done for the PR professional,
especially since it would involve a major financial loss on his part. So, for him, the choice boils
down to thisopt for money and security, or choose to keep his honor and integrity?
2 Conduct our activities in full accordance with the accepted standards of trust, objectivity,
accuracy and good taste.

The trust of employers or clients, or of the various public that the PR practitioner must deal
with, can only be earned over a period of time. Once that trust is gained, it is something that
the PR professional must value and maintain. For if he loses that trust in even just a single
misstep, he may never regain it again.

He should also be objective, making the companys statements and positions as balanced and
objective as possible in order to be credible. Otherwise, whatever he says or does will be
dismissed as one-sided and self-serving.

The PR professional must always strive for accuracy. Otherwise, his and his companys
credibility suffers, and people will regard all communication emanating from him and the
company from thereon as unreliable and subject to further verification.

As for good taste, it is the responsibility of the PR professional to see to it that all the actuations
and statements of the company, whether coming from him as spokesman or from the CEO
himself, are marked by class, dignity and grace. There should be no crass or uncouth behavior
that could bring them and the company down. A top official using foul language, giving an off-

color remark in a speech, or being too loud and boisterous in a public event, can have negative
repercussions on the companys overall image.

3 Uphold the rule of law and the dictates of public order, public policy, morals and good

In understanding this, we must remember that the PRSP code was produced during martial law.

Hence, it was probably meant more to remindwarn?PR men and the companies they work
for that they should behave as good corporate and individual citizens of the country. They
should comply with all the laws, requirements and regulations of the government; refrain from
creating any trouble or disturbance to the public order and from transgressing or speaking out
against any public policies that have been promulgated.

In general, this precept cautioned PRSP members not to do anything immoral or anything that
is not in accordance with the good customs supposed to be prevailing in the New Era.

4 Help promote the concept of social justice.

It is unfortunate that in the Philippines, there is still a lot if inequality in terms of social and
economic levels and we still have a long way to go before true and lasting social justice can be

This concern to bridge the large gap between the very few rich and middle class, on the one
hand, and the much greater number of poor Filipinos, on the other, prompted Jose Carpio, then
vice president for PR of San Miguel Corp., to spearhead the formation in the 1970s of the
Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), where participating Philippine companies set
aside and contributed a certain percentage of their revenues to PBSP for use in various
developmental projects, especially in the countryside where poverty was most prevalent.

Apart from their involvement in PBSP, many companies have also undertaken their own
respective CSR projects in areas such as livelihood, health care, education, environment
conservation, support for the arts and culture, and so forth. In doing so, they not only
promoted social justice, but also enhanced their public image and strengthened their relations
with key stakeholders.

PR professionals like Joe Carpio, Oscar Villadolid and Max Edralin, among others, have
contributed significantly to bringing about social-justice consciousness among Filipino

5 Foster harmonious relationship and establish fair dealings at all times with employers, our
fellow practitioners and the general and special publics.

How does one go about this? By providing our employers or clients with the best PR service

that we are capable of, and not short-changing them with shabby or mediocre work. This also
means providing them with frank and objective counsel, not telling them just what they want to

With regard to our fellow practitioners, we must compete with them fairly and ethically and in
accordance with ground rules that have been set. We must not spy on them to get valuable
information that would give us undue advantage over them. Nor should we badmouth them
with their employees or clients or do anything to injure their practice or reputation or doing
similar unethical means of pirating their clients.

But dealing fairly with our fellow PR practitioners does not just mean competing with them
fairly. It also means working with them closely to further improve the practice of Public
Relations and to gain for our profession better understanding and greater credibility and
respect from the public.

On fair dealings with the general and special public, it involves basically always being truthful,
sincere and transparent with them and not deceiving them in any way. We must also respect
their intellectual property rights and not pas of their ideas and creations as own.

It also involves, as stated in the Ipra Code of Athens, paying due regard to, and upholding
human dignity and recognizing the right of people to judge things for themselves, state their
case and express their views.

6 Protect the interest of our clients or employers by being faithful to our commitments to
them, against which shall not represent conflicting or competing interests, unless full consent
is given by all interested parties with full disclosure of facts.

I believe this provision is a simple and actually a given. It means that if you work for someone or
for an organization, you must give it your total loyalty and devotion. This is why you must not
work for a company or get it as a client if you do not agree with its policies and practices. But
once you are employed by that company or it becomes your client, you must work for its
interest, even subordinating your own personal interests. Unless, of course, as I pointed out
earlier, the interests of the company are contrary to public interests, in which ethics demands
that you give priority to the latter.

This also means that a PR professional, before working for or dealing with any organization,
must disclose any existing or potential conflict of interest. He must then leave it to the client or
organization to decide if despite this, they still want to take you on or work with you and trust
you enough to avoid situations that would bring the conflict into play.

I hope this has been an eye opener for PR professionals, and will tackle the next six precepts in
my next column.


Source: Business Mirror

IN PR, as in everything else in life, ethics matter. PR practitioners must have the integrity and
commitment to conduct their work in accordance with accepted ethical standards.

Ethics issues are, in fact, so deep that we have devoted three columns just to talk about them.
In the first column, we discussed how major international organizations like the Public Relations
Association of America and the International Public Relations Association have their own code
of ethics, which members use as guidelines. Closer to home is that of the Public Relations
Association of the Philippines (PRSP).

In the second column, we talked about the first six general precepts of the PRSP code, which
centered on public interest, trust, upholding the rule of law, helping promote the concept of
social justice, fostering harmonious relationships, and protecting the interests of our clients and

In this column, I will discuss the last six precepts in the PRSP Code. These are:

7 Refuse all other obligations, which hamper the effective and efficient performance of our
duties to our clients and publics.

This is all about priorities. When one is working for a company or client, he must give it his
undivided loyalty and devotion. He must not accept any other job, have a sideline, or even join
a club or NGO that would prevent him from doing his job for his employer or serving the needs
of his clients, as well as he couldand should.

8 Adhere closely to the established guidelines and ethics for the use of the mass media or any
other channels of communication.

The Ipra Code of Venice is more specific and straightforward in this respect. It states that Ipra
members shall not intentionally disseminate false or misleading information to the media.

The importance of providing truthful and accurate information about the company or client he
works to the mediaand to the publicis probably the most ethical principle in all public

There are, however, other instances cited specifically by the PRSA and Ipra code of ethics.
These include coming up with front organizations that promote the interest of ones employers
or clients; writing letters to the editors under assumed names or the names of willing
accomplices to support their employers or clients positions on certain issues; or employing
people to volunteer to speak on their companies or clients behalf at seminars or public

The Code of Venice also enjoins Ipra members not to engage in practice which tends to

corrupt the integrity of the channels. But as I wrote in an earlier column, ethical standards in
various countries slightly differ, depending on the culture of the country.

9 Safeguard the confidence of our present and former clients or employers by keeping trade
secrets of or other information of similar nature, unless a competent government authority,
by reason of national security or public policy, orders their disclosure.

This is all about trade secrets and both the PRSA and Ipra codes have similar provisions. But to
further ensure that their confidences and privacy rights are safeguarded, most American
employees require their employees and agencies including their PR counsels to sign on-
disclosure agreements in their respective work or engagement contracts.

The PRSP Code, however, goes a step further in making an exception in cases where disclosure
is ordered by a competent government authority by reason of national security or public
policy. Again, this goes back to the fact that PRSPs Code of Ethics was drafted after the
declaration of martial law.

10 Refuse any form of valuable consideration for a service, involving the profession, from any
one other than our clients or employers, even if it does not involve conflicting interests,
unless all interested parties give full consent.

This is a further elaboration of being ethicalfair, truthful and transparentin relation to our
employers and clients. Receiving valuable considerationa fee, gift, whateverfor any PR
service rendered from others without informing or getting the prior agreement of ones
employer or clients, is a form of deception. Even if there were no conflict of interest involved, it
would cast a shadow of doubt on the integrity and trustworthiness of the PR counsel.

11 Avoid at all times pursuing any activity prejudicial to the interest of the society or
inconsistent with the dictates of this code.

I think this is a given that members of professional societies like the PRSP should not be
involved in any activity that puts the society and the profession in a bad light, especially if these
activities are unethical or illegal.

12 Uphold the accepted principle of Ethics that the end does not justify the means.

This ethical principle is very basic not only in PR but in all professions. No unethical action can
be condoned. There are so many other tools and techniques that are ethical and effective that
a PR professional, if he is really good, can use to achieve the desired corporate objectives of his
employer or client.

Enforcing codes is difficult

IT is interesting to note that all PR codesof PRSA, Ipra and PRSPwere and are meant more

for the guidance and adherence of their members, with not provision for enforcement.

In the case of PRSA, PR practitioners are made to pledge adherence to the code before they are
accepted in the organization. And while it has given up its call for whistle blowing, it retained
the right to bar from membership or expel from the society any individual who has been or is
sanctioned by a government agency or convicted in a court of law of an action that fails to
comply with its code. I have no knowledge whether PRSA has ever exercised its right.

Still and all, the Code of Ethics serves as a reminder to PR practitioners, whether in the
Philippines or abroad, that if they want to be looked up to as PR professionals, they must try to
live up to accepted ethical standards in the day-to-day practice of their profession. Being ethical
is admittedly difficult, and may even be seen as a weakness by the less conscionable among less
ethical PR practitioners and companies.

But in the end, I still believe that truth will prevail and honesty is still the best policy. That, plus
excellence and creativity, make a great PR professional. And this is not just nave or wishful

Many leading companies still wantand even insist thatthe PR professionals they hire must
be honest and ethical. The successful careers of many God-fearing and law-abiding PR
professionals who have tried their best to follow the straight and narrow pathno matter how
difficultcan attest to this.