PRSA Beps Ethical Quotient (EQ) Test

14 Questions | Total Attempts: 174

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PRSA Quizzes & Trivia

Welcome to the 2009 PRSA Ethics Quotient (EQ) Exam. This test has been developed to help public relations practitioners assess their sensitivity and knowledge of professional standards, according to the PRSA Member Code of Ethics as revised in 2000 and amended in the intervening years with Professional Standard Advisories (PSAs). We hope you find this exercise challenging, perhaps even surprising. Most of all, we hope it helps your thinking as you establish personal guidelines for your practice, and face the ethical questions and dilemmas the practice of public relations generates. As a part of its ongoing responsibility to teach, educate, and advance the ethical practice of public relations, the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) wil


Questions and Answers
  • 1. 
    You work for a cosmetics company that specializes in marketing its products through department stores and a growing network of “Tupperware”-like parties run by the consultants who work in your department store settings.  One of the most successful sales people is Emily Wilson who (for reasons only she knows), after getting a Ph.D. in psychology from a Midwestern university, chooses to work in one of your cosmetic departments.  She is very good and a great relationship builder with customers.  In fact, many customers call her “Doc.”   A local television station calls and asks about her and her credentials.  The reporter seems to think it is pretty cool to have someone like her in a department store cosmetics department.  They want to interview customers to see if they really know why she is called “Doc.”   What is the biggest issue you face in talking about this woman and her success?  Which provisions of the PRSA Code of Ethics are affected?  (Select all that apply.)
    • A. 

      Deception

    • B. 

      Disclosure

    • C. 

      Moral issues

    • D. 

      Phantom experience

  • 2. 
    For years your company has used celebrities to endorse its products.  Many of these celebrities have also enthusiastically participated in other feature-like coverage.  A consumer activist group has contacted you, and apparently the media as well, claiming that your company’s failure to disclose that these celebrities are paid makes their endorsements more powerful than they really should be.  In fact, these celebrities may be attracting consumers who can’t afford your products and may buy them simply because of a popular celebrity’s endorsement.   As far as you know, nothing in current advertising regulations requires disclosure.  Each of the celebrity endorsements seems perfectly credible.  It is likely that the celebrities do use, appreciate, or recommend these products outside of the visibility that they get in paid placements and public relations activities, for which they also are paid.   The dilemma you face is that some celebrities may not wish the fact that they are being paid to be disclosed.  Some of these celebrities may stop endorsing your product, which could be quite newsworthy.  In any event, you are in the sights of this consumer activist organization.  Which of these potential outcomes presents the greatest difficulty for your company to overcome?  Which elements of the PRSA Code of Ethics are affected?  (Select one.)
    • A. 

      Disclosure

    • B. 

      Misrepresentation

    • C. 

      Moral issues

  • 3. 
    You work in healthcare and have for many years.  You have pretty much seen it all.  Your current post is a senior communications position in a major West Coast hospital, a hospital that has a spotty track record on some crucial issues, including infection rates and certain categories of surgical patient quality care failure.   The state you are located in requires annual disclosure of adverse patient outcomes as a condition of accreditation.  In the time that you have been working at this hospital, you (and others) have identified three physicians who are clearly struggling.  Scuttlebutt is that these three physicians are the major cause of the infection problems and the poor surgical outcomes problems.  These physicians are in collusion with or are bullying nurses and hospital administration to hide their culpability in these problems.   Which of these options presents the greatest threat, danger, or ethical conduct issues?  (Select one.)
    • A. 

      Disclosure

    • B. 

      Misrepresentation

    • C. 

      Moral issues

  • 4. 
    You work for the (fictional) Global Medical Journal (GMJ), one of the world’s most influential medical journals.  Occasionally your publication receives materials to be published by physicians and medical specialists who fail to disclose their connection to pharmaceutical companies and other medical manufacturers, institutions, or for-profit institutions.  Your policy is to request any challenges of this nature to remain confidential until an investigation can be conducted and the result publicly disclosed.  Recently, the editors of a competitive journal published a letter exposing one of your previous authors as a spokesperson, outside the United States, for a pharmaceutical company who has been paid many thousands of dollars for his public appearances and lectures.  This disclosure was not made in your journal.  The GMJ editors promptly published an editorial criticizing the other publication for breaching confidentiality, and thereby, compromising your organization’s ability to conduct a complete and fair investigation.   For his part, the doctor who wrote the letter exposing the author claims to have gotten his information from simply searching the Web and finding the author’s name connected to the pharmaceutical company.  It was already in the public domain.  Your publication insists on confidentiality, a complex investigatory process, and plans to withhold information until findings can be formally released.  The reason given is that “we want to avoid needlessly hurting the reputation of innocent physicians and medical practice in general.”  In the meantime, most other medical journals have adopted a different policy, that of immediate disclosure and requiring offenders to promptly validate or invalidate such claims of conflict.  Which of these PRSA Code of Ethics provisions represents the most serious challenge facing your publication?  (Select one.)
    • A. 

      Conflict of interest

    • B. 

      Deception

    • C. 

      Free flow of information

  • 5. 
    You, your team, and your company have a chance to win one of the most significant PR contracts in your company’s history.  You invest enormous amounts of time, energy, and expense to develop an extraordinary presentation.  Despite your best efforts, you are informed a day after the presentation that another agency was selected.  However, in obvious recognition of your efforts, one member of the client search team offers to privately show you the winning presentation.   You are shocked.  Three major exhibits in that presentation are materials directly from your own company files.  In fact, these exhibits were used as is, but scrubbed to remove the identity of your company.  In your discussion with the lost potential client, you generally acknowledge that the presentation was certainly exceptional and that one of the reasons it was is the presence of key ingredient content that came from your agency.   What are the most crucial issues associated with this scenario?  Which values and provisions of the PRSA Code of Ethics are affected?  (Select all that apply.)
    • A. 

      Competition

    • B. 

      Expertise

    • C. 

      Disclosure of information

    • D. 

      Fairness

    • E. 

      Honesty

  • 6. 
    An employee who has a highly visible position within her company also does modeling and acting on the side.  She accepted a gig to appear in a TV commercial for a company that competes against one of the subsidiaries of her existing company.  She would be able to be seen and heard in the advertisement.  Is this ethical?  Which provisions of the PRSA Code of Ethics are affected?  (Select all that apply.)
    • A. 

      Conflict of interest

    • B. 

      Disclosure

    • C. 

      Moral issues

    • D. 

      All of the above

  • 7. 
    A team of employees from a company had a two-day offsite meeting.  After the first day of meetings concluded, the group went to dinner at another location.  The meeting and dinner included the department manager.  The meal was charged to a company card by an employee reporting to that manager.  When the meal was expensed, the manager’s name was omitted from the list of attendees to avoid triggering review by the department manager’s boss.  Should the dinner expense have been handled this way?  Which provisions of the PRSA Code of Ethics come into play?  (Select one.)
    • A. 

      Disclosure

    • B. 

      Free flow of information

    • C. 

      Moral issues

    • D. 

      More than one

  • 8. 
    An agency employee searched the Web to find information that might be helpful as background for a client presentation.  While searching, he located a presentation that was very similar to the one he would be developing.  He incorporated three of the pages from the 25-page presentation into his draft; no attribution was given to the original author.  Which provisions of the PRSA Code of Ethics apply?  (Select all that apply.)
    • A. 

      Competition

    • B. 

      Disclosure

    • C. 

      Trademark infringement

    • D. 

      Enhance the profession

    • E. 

      Copyright violation

  • 9. 
    You have been working for the Tourism ministry of a Caribbean country (Client A) for a number of years.  In fact, you have established an important reputation based on your work with this country.  You are known for it in the industry and are often called upon to speak about issues that are related to this country’s tourism industry.  It seems that just about everyone on the island knows who you are and what you do.  Now you have been asked, privately, to compete for a major assignment from the Tourism ministry of another Caribbean country (Client B).  Clearly, Client B is asking you to make a pitch because of the success you have had with Client A.  Client B even seems willing to allow you to continue working with Client A, should you be successful in the competition for this major assignment for Client B.  Although the industry in the Caribbean is aware that Client B is looking for special help to resolve their issues, it is customary to keep the identities of the competing firms private until the winner is announced.  You get the sense that you are competing with other successful consultancies from the Caribbean or Central American markets.   Which values and provisions of the PRSA Ethics Code are affected?  (Select all that apply.)
    • A. 

      Conflict of interest

    • B. 

      Independence

    • C. 

      Disclosure

    • D. 

      Honesty

    • E. 

      Advocacy

  • 10. 
    You are a senior employee at a large Public Relations firm.  You are approached by a colleague and friend at the firm.  She confides in you that her boss, an executive vice president, told her that that he was going to engage in a business deception.  The deception would cost the firm a significant amount of money, but allow the executive vice president to develop an exceptional outcome for the company and for a client.  He assured her that senior management would never find out.   She is very uncomfortable; she came to you asking what to do knowing that if she exposed her boss there might be reprisals, from either direction, above him or below her.   Which values of the PRSA Ethics Code are affected?  (Select all that apply.)
    • A. 

      Expertise

    • B. 

      Honesty

    • C. 

      Fairness

    • D. 

      Loyalty

    • E. 

      Safeguarding Confidence

  • 11. 
    Who are the primary beneficiaries of professional ethics in public relations?
    • A. 

      Clients

    • B. 

      Public relations practitioners

    • C. 

      Society

  • 12. 
    A code of ethics is desirable for professionalism, even among those occupations that do not strictly fulfill the criteria of a profession.
    • A. 

      True

    • B. 

      False

  • 13. 
    A “code of ethics”—strictly defined—can be written by any group wishing to distinguish its members in some way from the rest of society, and such distinctions can, in fact, refer to any type of behavior, whether or not this behavior impacts upon society.
    • A. 

      True

    • B. 

      False

  • 14. 
    Ultimately, corporations cannot be considered moral agents; rather, only the humans managing these organizations can be held morally responsible for these corporate entities’ ethical decisions.
    • A. 

      True

    • B. 

      False

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