An Introduction to Ethics Month 2018

September 4, 2018

Ethics Month Co-Chairs B.J. Whitman, APR, Fellow PRSA, and Marlene Neill, Ph.D., APR, wrote the following article. Whitman and Neill are members of PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards.

It takes thinking about ethics 365 days a year to be a true ethical PR professional. This is, in part, the charter of the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS): It is our mission to inspire, educate and advocate for best practices in the PR profession, as well as to develop and provide resources to guide ethical decision-making.

To fulfill this mission, BEPS holds conference calls with ethics officers from each Chapter every month to discuss various issues of the day and share resources. We also receive and respond to ethical questions submitted through the PRSA website, conduct ethics webinars hosted by experienced ethics counselors, author Ethical Standards Advisories (ESA) on critical subjects impacting our industry and share ethical experiences through a host of other tools. 

In addition, BEPS contributes to ethics thought leadership by conducting original research in collaboration with the Arthur W. Page Center. In the past few years, this research has resulted in a book titled “Public Relations Ethics: Senior PR Pros Tell Us How to Speak UP and Keep Your Job,” four academic journal articles, four academic conference papers, and two awards for top papers from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) and the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC).

Our members have also given presentations at the PRSA International Conference and Leadership Rally, along with Chapter meetings and conferences.

While PRSA views Ethics Month each September as a way to bring increased attention to the core foundation of our profession, this year’s theme is intended to remind everyone about the preparation that is needed to be ready when an ethical issue arises.
The programming for this month centers around the theme “PR Ethics Counsel: Be Prepared.” Weekly blog posts will offer communicators such information as a primer on how to conduct a personal ethics assessment, an introduction to different ethical decision-making tools, advice on how to build credibility among your colleagues so you can serve as a trusted ethical adviser, and a webinar on how to create a personal crisis plan. 

The schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. ET — Twitter Chat, “Ethics Counsel Today: No Boundaries”
  • Sept. 13 at 3 p.m. ET — Webinar, “How to Prepare an Ethical Personal Crisis Plan”
  • Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. ET — PRSA Educators Academy Twitter Chat regarding Ethics curriculum in collaboration with the AEJMC PR and Media Ethics Divisions

You can join the conversation once Ethics Month begins using the hashtag #EthicsMonth.

In the meantime, we encourage everyone to check out the ethics resources available on PRSA’s website including the Code of Ethics, Ethical Standards Advisories, a decision-making guide, case studies and a mobile app. You can also learn more about the members of BEPS by reviewing the directory on our website.


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