Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS)

The Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), based in Toronto, Ontario is an organization comprising 1,800 public relations practitioners. It serves to foster the professional interests of its members, advance the public relations profession, with both its regional member societies and like-minded organizations in other counties, and regulate the practice for the benefit and protection of the public interest. CPRS is a member of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, an organization of over 40 professional associations committed to the establishment of a global code of ethics and benchmarking of accreditation and curriculum standards.

CPRS defines public relations as "the strategic managemet of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, though the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, ealize organizational goals, and seCPRA-VAN.gifrve the public interest". The society was formed in 1948 from two original groups, Montreal and Toronto, and was incorporated in 1957. Today, it is a federation of 16 regional member societies across Canada. Each society maintains its own “local constitution, letters patent and bylaws in keeping with the philosophy and standards of the National authority”. [1] Societies run professional development events, seminars and networking opportunities and act as a source of information on the industry and organization for its regional members.

CPRS Structure
The National Society is governed by an elected 12 member Board of Directors. The National Executive Committee consists of the President, Vice President/Secretary and Vice President/Treasurer and is voted in by secret ballot by the Board following the Annual General Meeting. President's of the Local Member Societies form the Presidents' Council which may raise issues and make recommendations to the Board from time to time.

What CPRS Does
The Canadian Public Relations Society, as a distinct Canadian association, seeks:
  • to group all public relations practitoners in Canada and to foster their professional interests
  • in cooperation with its regional Member Societies and with like-minded organizations in other countries, to advance the professional stature of public relations
  • to regulate its practice for the benefit and protection of the public interest
  • to serve the public interest by upholding a standard of proficiency and code of ethics, and by providing ongoing professional development to its members and public relations practitioners across Canada.

The CPRS National Society strives to:
  • affirm that the obligations of a public trust are inherent in the practice of public relations;
  • promote and maintain high standards of professional practice and conduct among the membership, so as to ensure that public relations shall be esteemed as an honourable profession;
  • safeguard good taste and truthfulness in all material prepared for public dissemination and in all aspects of the public relations practitioner's operations;
  • ensure that membership represents surety of ethical conduct, skill, knowledge and competence in the practice of public relations;
  • foster increased attention to public relations as a course of study in universities, colleges, institutes and other similar educational organizations in order to further the proficiency, knowledge and training of anyone engaged in or interested in entering public relations;
  • adhere to the Global Protocol on Ethics in Public Relations of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management; and
  • subscribe to the principles of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms [2]

CPRS Code of Professional Standards

The CPRS code of professional standards requires members to “practice public relations according to the highest professional standards, deal fairly and honestly with the communications media and the public, and practice the highest standards of honesty, accuracy, integrity and truth, and not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information”. [3] In addition to the code of professional standards CPRS also holds its members to a Confidentiality and Privacy Agreement, Conflict of Interest Declarationand a CPRS Policy Statemnet Communication in Social Media. These agreements work in conjunction with the code of professional standards as well as the code of ethic to create a uniform understanding of what is considered acceptable behavior when repersenting the CPRS brand.

The Canadian Public Relations Society judicial and ethics processis designed to review complaints when a member
breaches our Code of Professional Standards. The process is based on the values of consistency, integrity, and trust. The process provides consistency in the review of complaints. Legal counsel is not required nor expected throughout any part of this process. However, CPRS has Regulations and By-laws that guide them with the process of handling complaints. The local member Society has the responsibility to handle complaints at the outset, or pass those complaints on to National if the complaint cannot be resolved locally. The names of the compliant, the accused and the nature of the
complaint are kept confidential therefore the unethical practitoner may continue practicing without ever being publically exposed. If public relations were a licensed profession like medicine or dentistry, it could remove a licence and it would be illegal to practice. At this point, the practice of public relations is selfregulated and therefore consequences for unethical behaviour may very well be minimal.

Code of prfoseeional standards:
  1. A member shall practice public relations according to the highest professional standards. Members shall conduct their professional lives in a manner that does not conflict with the public interest and the dignity of the individual, with respect for the rights of the public as contained in the Constitution of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  2. A member shall deal fairly and honestly with the communications media and the public. Members shall neither propose nor act to improperly influence the communications media, government bodies or the legislative process. Improper influence may include conferring gifts, privileges or benefits to influence decisions
  3. .A member shall practice the highest standards of honesty, accuracy, integrity and truth, and shall not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information. Members shall not make extravagant claims or unfair comparisons, nor assume credit for ideas and words not their own.Members shall not engage in professional or personal conduct that will bring discredit to themselves, the Society or the practice of public relations.
  4. A member shall deal fairly with past or present employers / clients, fellow practitioners and members of other professions. Members shall not intentionally damage another practitioner's practice or professional reputation. Members shall understand, respect and abide by the ethical codes of other professions with whose members they may work from time to time.
  5. Members shall be prepared to disclose the names of their employers or clients for whom public communications are made and refrain from associating themselves with anyone who would not respect such policy. Members shall be prepared to disclose publicly the names of their employers or clients on whose behalf public communications is made. Members shall not associate themselves with anyone claiming to represent one interest, or professing to be independent or unbiased, but who actually serves another or an undisclosed interest.
  6. A member shall protect the confidences of present, former and prospective employers / clients. Members shall not use or disclose confidential information obtained from past or present employers / clients without the expressed permission of the employers / clients or an order of a court of law.
  7. A member shall not represent conflicting or competing interests without the expressed consent of those concerned, given after a full disclosure of the facts. Members shall not permit personal or other professional interests to conflict with those of an employer / client without fully disclosing such interests to everyone involved.
  8. A member shall not guarantee specified results beyond the member's capacity to achieve.
  9. Members shall personally accept no fees, commissions, gifts or any other considerations for professional services from anyone except employers or clients for whom the services were specifically performed.


Code of Ethics

CPRS imposes a code of ethics upon its membership. Members of CPRS are pledged to maintain the spirit and ideals of the code of professional standards, confidentiality and privacy declarations, conflict of interest declaration and the CPRS policy statement communications in social media, and consider each essential to the practice of public relations. [4] CPRS, as is the case with other professional organizations, faces serious challenges in the enforcement of its ethics code. [5] . The only recourse for “poor ethics is expulsion from CPRS membership, and sometimes regrettably that allows an unethical practitioner to continue practicing unethically until he/she is caught in a situation that raises questions. Media backlash, possible termination of employment or peer pressure may be other consequences to unethical practices in the field of public relations.” [6] The responsibility to uphold the ethical practice of public relations in Canada fall to the membership of CPRS, both nationally and regionally, to ensure ethics is embedded in all aspects of the practice. Members have the responsibility to govern their own actions and alert the judicial and ethics committee when unethical actions by a fellow member are witnessed. When breaches in the code of professional standards occur, the CPRS judicial and ethics committee has a process designed to review complaints which provides a consistent manner in which the reviews are conducted. [7]


Membership to CPRS is open to applicants who devote most of their work-for- pay time to the practice of public relations, have a degree in public relations, or are career teachers or administrators engaged in public relations/communications education at an accredited post-secondary institution. Applicants who are not devoting most of their work-for-pay time to the practice or teaching public relations can still join as associate members. [8]

Membership dues are based on a National Society component, a local/regional society fee and are subjct to a one time, new member initiation fee. Fees are updated regularly. [9]

Member Benefits and Services

Members of CPRS enjoy a host of benefits including:
  • Leadership opportunities (board, executive committees, etc.)
  • Local member societies
  • Accreditation
  • Member recognition
  • Professional development
  • Global Alliance
  • Speakers network
  • Access to CPRS website resources & national resource library
  • Career file
  • Publications


The CPRS accreditation (APR) is a well respected measure of professional experience in public relations field. The designation recognizes the dedication, energy, perseverance and competence of successful public relations professionals and serves to demonstrate a level of professional competence, establishment of professional standards and increased recognition of the PR practice within the business community. In order to become accredited, applicants must be a member in good standing of the Canadian Public Relations Society, employed full-time in a public relations position for at least five years and have spent at least half of his/her professional time involved inspecific public relations activities. The process involves a three-part exam, a review of a work sample, a written examination and an oral examination.[10]


CPRS members are also eligible for several annual awards. The Awards of Excellence recognize outstanding achievement in a comprehensive public relations project or program, which are based on entrants submitting their own work and open to members and non-members. The CPRS Major Awards are Canada's most coveted public relations honours and are based on nominations by others in recognition of exceptional professional involvement. [11] The CPRS/CNW Student Award of Excellence was established jointly by CPRS and CNW Group and recognizes student excellence within the PR field. Eligible students must be currently enrolled in their final year (or equivalent) of a recognized, full-time PR program, instructed in a Canadian post-secondary institution and be nominated by a program coordinator or instructor.


Members have access to the CPRS membership directory and accreditation handbook free of charge. In addition, members receive special pricing on the Public Relations Society of America's (PRSA) publications, Public Relations Tactics (a monthly tabloid ISSN 1080-6792) and The Public Relations Strategist (a quarterly magazine ISSN 1082-9113).

Professional Development

CPRS holds a national conference each year and offers seminars, workshops and tutorials through its regional member societies. Special rates for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) educational offerings are available for CPRS members.

External Links



  1. ^ Societies. Retrieved October 14, 2008 from www.cprs.ca/AboutCPRS/e_societies.htm
  2. ^ Mission. Retrieved October 15, 2008 from www.cprs.ca/AboutCPRS/e_mission.htm
  3. ^ Pieters, D. (2007, August 10) CPRS President responds to Toronto Star article on the "spin trade.” Retrieved October 15, 2008 from http://www.cprs.ca/news/e_07Aug10_SpinTradeResponse.htm
  4. ^ Code of Ethics. Retrieved October 15, 2008 from http://www.cprs.ca/AboutCPRS/e_code.htm
  5. ^ Bowen, S. (2004). Expansion of ethics as the tenth generic principle of public relations excellence: A Kantian theory and model for managing ethical issues. Journal of Public Relations Research, 16(1), 65-92.
  6. ^ Stanley, R. (n.d.). Judicial and ethics committees work to increase awareness of ethics issues. Para 14. Retrieved October 15, 2008 from http://www.cprstoronto.com/resources/item.aspx?id=144
  7. ^ Stanley, R. (n.d.). Judicial and ethics committees work to increase awareness of ethics issues. Retrieved October 15, 2008 from http://www.cprstoronto.com/resources/item.aspx?id=144
  8. ^ Membership. Retrieved October 28, 2008 from http://www.cprs.ca/Membership/e_membership.htm
  9. ^ Membership Application. Retrieved October 17, 2008 from http://www.cprs.ca/Membership/e_application.htm
  10. ^ Accreditation. Retrieved October 28, 2008 from http://www.cprs.ca/Accreditation/e_accreditation.htm
  11. ^ Major Awards. Retrieved October 17, 2008 from http://www.cprs.ca/Awards/e_awards.htm