The Public Relations Strategist

An Education in Ethics: Jim Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA, Named Member Emeritus of BEPS

April 14, 2015

[albert chau]
[albert chau]

For Jim Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA, there aren’t any gray areas when it comes to ethics. To the longtime co-chair of PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), it’s pretty much black and white.

“If it feels wrong, then it probably is wrong,” says Lukaszewski, whom BEPS recently named Member Emeritus for his years of dedicated service.

He says that this vision came straight from his mother, Ginny, whom he credits with “giving me a foundational sense of right and wrong from day one.” The values that Lukaszewski learned in his early days helped him — along with his BEPS colleagues — establish what he asserts is the de facto ethical standard for thousands of PRSA members and PR practitioners around the globe.

Lukaszewski considers his work on the current PRSA Code of Ethics, which he helped rewrite in 2000, to be his greatest accomplishment as a BEPS member.

“It was a great assignment and magical time for the eight of us appointed to come up with the new Code.”

A BEPS member since 1992, Lukaszewski says that the early days of his service were frustrating.

“The clear path to learning ethics had yet to be developed,” he notes. “Because of the confidential inner workings of the old Code, nearly everyone accused of unethical practices, as well as those who brought charges forward, were totally in the dark regarding the Board’s deliberations and final conclusions.”

Armed with today’s Code, which BEPS designed with the intent to educate communicators, Lukaszewski has become one of the nation’s leading writers and teachers of ethics for the PR profession.

“People joke that PR ethics is an oxymoron — it’s far from that,” he says. “We have a great Code based on six key values and six overarching principles. It has stood the test of time these past 14 years, and it will continue to set a global ethical standard for a long time.”

As for the future of PR ethics, Lukaszewski believes that BEPS will help PRSA engage all of its members in more sensitive issues, as part of BEPS’ professional education mission. He also believes that BEPS will be working toward more collaboration with other U.S. and international ethics bodies, such as the Ethics and Compliance Officers Association.

After working for 27 years in New York, Lukaszewski now resides and works from his home state of Minnesota. Companies and organizations around the globe seek out his PR counsel, and he has guided hundreds of companies out of crisis situations.

“My goal is to change management behavior in constructive and ethical ways,” Lukaszewski says, “and to change management’s perceptions and expectations of our profession.”

Bob Frause, APR, Fellow PRSA, has been a PRSA member since 1978. He was formerly chairman of the College of Fellows, chairman of BEPS and a member of the PRSA Board of Directors. He also served as global chairman of PROI Worldwide, the profession’s largest global network of independent PR agencies, from 2011 to 2014. He is currently CEO of Frause in Langley, Wash.

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