Do the Right Thing: An Everyday Reality for PR Pros

September 1, 2015


Once a year like clockwork, September rolls around and PRSA announces a plethora of activities designed to educate, inform and inspire members and non-members alike about the role that ethics plays in the conduct of our profession. This year’s theme is “Ethics Every Day,” and there will be something of interest and use for everyone.

Ethics should be an everyday reality for all of us. It should be intuitive and proactive, not haphazard and reactive. While ethical practice is most assuredly not a “once-a-year” thing like an annual physical exam, this concentrated focus on ethics serves a valuable purpose.

Why? Because the PR profession, like many others, is still regarded with skepticism by some, based on the all-too-public shenanigans of a few in our community who refer to themselves as PR professionals but whose credentials are, at best, spotty. And their actions are taken to represent the way we all operate.

In addition, the tools used by PR professionals to help service their clients or employers are increasing exponentially. For those of us who have been around long enough to remember the advent of that remarkable time-saving gizmo called a “facsimile machine,” today’s options can be mind-boggling. We think we’ve got a handle on the dos and don’ts of the various platforms. Then along comes a new means of communicating and with it, a whole new menu of potential ethical mishaps.

PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) works year-round to provide you with the most current information possible. This includes coordination with District and Chapter leadership teams to address their needs, and an ongoing review of PRSA’s Ethical Standards Advisories to ensure that they address current communication challenges. For example, BEPS is publishing a new “Ethics and Social Media” (ESA), to address a very timely need that members have identified. (We invite your input on issues that you have encountered or see looming on the horizon.)

Ethics Month is one of PRSA’s initiatives to remind ourselves of the importance of being seen as ethical practitioners. It is also an opportunity to educate our publics on the fact that we do have guidelines and oversight to help members and non-members understand that we, as the largest organization representing the profession and the professional, are committed to ethical conduct and practice.

With that in mind, PRSA devotes its energies to an action-packed month of tweet chats, webinars, blog posts and Chapter and District outreach in order to reach and teach as many PR professionals as possible.

And the hope is that our Districts and Chapters will take the advice and insights from this month and apply them to their own individual programming needs throughout the year.

This is your opportunity to join in the conversation, offer your own insights and experiences and learn from others who have been there before you. Check your email, visit the PRSA website and follow along on the many social media platforms for information on dates and times for Ethics Month activities.

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is associate professor of communication at Curry College in Milton, Mass. He is also a visiting lecturer for graduate organizational and professional communication at Regis College in Weston, Mass. Before moving into academia, he practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years.


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