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How to Engage in Ethics Awareness Month

PRSA Ethics PosterStephanie Flynn proudly displays her “Act Ethically and Carry On” poster in her office.

Welcome to September. This month PRSA celebrates ethics awareness. Like any philosophical topic, ethics doesn’t have a hard and fast definition but the gist of being ethical means being honest, acting toward the greater good, and treating others equally.

At this, the start of Ethics Awareness Month, there is no better time to evaluate your commitment to being ethical in your public relations. As you live the profession – any profession, frankly – there are concepts or guidelines that one follows in an effort to be, not just a better person, but a better professional. From treating the rampant Ebola crisis in Africa to our own local media’s reaction to the events in Ferguson, we have recently seen a number of stories in the news that ask the question, “Was that ethical?” As you reflect on those instances, consider what you would do in those various situations. How would you consult your client, your staff or your boss?

As a refresher, I encourage you to review the PRSA Code Provisions. The provisions list the core principles of the free flow of information, promoting healthy and fair competition among professionals, using open communication and the disclosure of information, safeguarding confidences, avoiding conflicts of interest, and enhancing the profession of public relations to the public.

Each principle has guidelines and provides examples of improper codes of conduct. After you review the code, take the next step to brush up on your “ethics” through PRSA’s many ethics resources, located on the national website. There you’ll also find the PRSA Ethics Month Activities, which includes webinars, Tweet Chats and more.

So, do you know enough about copyright infringement? Tape recording conversations without your staff or client’s knowledge? Plagiarism? Misleading news stories or interviews? Take the PRSA Ethics Quiz! It touches on basic concepts and values, and I think anyone would benefit from taking the quiz. Check it out, and let us know how you did. You can also keep that information to yourself and then take the quiz again in a few months, if you need to.

Finally, to commemorate this important month in the PRSA calendar, I invite you to take the Code of Ethics Pledge and make strides in your workday and workplace to act ethically.

PRSA Member Code of Ethics Pledge

I pledge:

To conduct myself professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness, and responsibility to the public; To improve my individual competence and advance the knowledge and proficiency of the profession through continuing research and education; And to adhere to the articles of the Member Code of Ethics 2000 for the practice of public relations as adopted by the governing Assembly of the Public Relations Society of America.

I understand and accept that there is a consequence for misconduct, up to and including membership revocation.

And, I understand that those who have been or are sanctioned by a government agency or convicted in a court of law of an action that fails to comply with the Code may be barred from membership or expelled from the Society.



This post is courtesy of Stephanie Flynn, former PRSA St. Louis Chapter President, current chapter Chief Ethics Officer, and Partner at Black Twig Communications (BTC). You can find her on Twitter @stephflynn101. Stephanie thanks BTC colleague, Elizabeth Davis, for her collaboration on this blog post.

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  1. Tressa Robbins

    Sep. 8, 2014

    Great tips, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing. I'd add that last year PRSA launched a PRSA Ethics app, which is available for FREE download in both Google’s Android Market and Apple’s App Store.