A Profession in Crisis: Public Relations in the Era of 'Alternative Facts'

September 20, 2017
11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
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UCO Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK 73129
Venue Website

Public Relations plays a critical role in the free flow of ideas, creating and sustaining markets, and in the functioning of a democratic society. Performing that role ethically is essential for building trust in business, trust in government and protecting the public interest. However, there is a persistent negative public perception of Public Relations. This deep-seated public skepticism of the public relations profession is exacerbated by today's polarized political discourse and the general decline in trust of business and public figures.

To promote ethical conduct by its members, the PRSA established its Code of Ethics. Accredited PRSA members (APRs) are bound by this code and all PRSA members are encouraged to follow its precepts. The problem is that anyone can call themselves a public relations practitioner and the majority of today's high-profile public spokespersons are not PRSA members and do not subscribe to a formal code of ethics. In fact, PRSA members make up only 22,000 of the 240,000 job positions in the U.S. that have public relations in their job title. For every public relations professional who subscribes to a code of ethics, there are 10+ who have no such obligation.

PRSA members must do what they can to rebuild trust in business, organizations, and government by representing their clients fairly and truthfully. This means learning, knowing and adhering to the Code of Ethics in the everyday practice of your profession. Mr. Sheldon will share anecdotal observations from more than 40 years in the profession and the audience will be challenged to examine and decide common ethical dilemmas. Finally, attendees will be provided with ten practical tips for avoiding unethical conduct in public relations.

About Robert E. Sheldon, APR, Fellow PRSA

Robert E. Sheldon, APR, Fellow PRSA, has been a technical writer, wire service reporter, newspaper editor, magazine editor, and a nationally-recognized public relations professional. He has been involved with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for more than four decades, serving as president of both the Minnesota and the San Antonio chapters. He has also chaired numerous committees in both chapters, including Ethics, Scholarships, Programs, Accreditation, and Nominations. 

In 2014, he was inducted into the National PRSA College of Fellows in recognition of his lifetime career accomplishments and contributions to the profession, becoming one of only 350 public relations professionals in the nation to be so recognized in the past 25 years. 

A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, he holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Minnesota and a certificate in Electronics from the Metropolitan Community and Technical College in Minneapolis. He is currently president of Sheldon Public Relations in San Antonio. In his leisure time, he is a medal-winning 5K runner, tournament skeet shooter, and a participant in long-distance cycling events as a member of the AT&T Cycling Team.


$32.00 Non-PRSA Members

$17.00 PRSSA Students

$22.00 Non-PRSSA Students

$22.00 PRSA Members