Thursday, September 8, 2011

PR is lost without Ethics

September is Ethics awareness Month for PRSA. I appreciate that the national organization (of which I am a proud member) highlights this important aspect of the public relations profession. According to the PRSA website, Ethics Awareness Month seeks to "inform and educate the public relations profession about ongoing issues and concerns regarding PR ethics."

We talk a lot about reputation management for our clients and organizations. But what about for ourselves? What's your reputation worth?

PR pros must be proactive in maintaining our own credibility. Thankfully, I have never been faced with a situation where I was asked to intentionally mislead, lie or cover-up something on behalf of an organization. And I hope I never will.

But I think it's bigger than an individual decision. Every time an apparent ethics breach occurs and a PR pro is caught in the middle, or worse, the cause, our profession veers off course. Collectively, we lose and the profession is lost without a foundation of ethics.

Take a close look at the fist line of the PRSA Member Code of Ethics pledge:
I pledge:
To conduct myself professionally, with truth, accuracy, fairness, and responsibility to the public...
PR ethics is one of those areas that sadly, sometimes gets forgotten from within, mocked from outsiders, and keeps us from taking steps forward.

I've heard for years about how we need a PR campaign for the PR profession. Well it starts with a focus on ethics to (re)build our profession's credibility.

I love the call to action over on Neville Hobson's blog on this topic:
Why don’t we all make September our own ethics awareness month by asking ourselves: What am I going to do?
Here’s a start: before the end of this month, read your respective professional association’s code of conduct:
(If you’re not a member of any of these bodies, read the codes anyway.)
Fantastic idea.
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