While September is specifically recognized as Ethics Month within our organization, we as public relations professionals and simply as moral beings should operate ethically every single day.
Ethics are guidelines determining right and wrong, and they must be the basis of the work and behavior of public relations students and professionals alike. The Public Relations Society of America operates according to its own Code of Ethics. Part of the preamble of the Code of Ethics reads: “The Code is designed to be a useful guide for PRSA members as they carry out their ethical responsibilities. This document is designed to anticipate and accommodate, by precedent, ethical challenges that may arise.”
PRSA requires its members to sign a member Code of Ethics pledge. This is one effective means of encouraging public relations students and practitioners to adhere to ethical standards in all that they do.
Not only is it necessary to act ethically in our professional lives, but it is vital in our personal lives as well. In fact, if we are not ethical in our relationships with friends and family, we are much less likely to be ethical in our dealings with clients, coworkers and superiors. Ethics shouldn’t be left on the desk when we leave work or school each day; they should be woven into our lifestyle. Being genuinely ethical builds positive reputations and adds quality to the personal and business relationships we create and maintain.
On its website, PRSA offers valuable resources, included below, regarding ethics in the public relations profession. The organization also encourages PRSA and PRSSA members to reach out to PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) via email for guidance with any ethical dilemma.
In tasks big and small, always remain ethical. Give credit where necessary. Be transparent in all communication, whether with clients or with colleagues. Hold others accountable, and allow them to do the same for you. You will be a better public relations professional, and a better person, for it.
PRSA ethics resources: https://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/Resources/index.html
Board of Ethics and Professional Standards email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRSA Code of Ethics:
Maura Fenske is a junior public relations major, and journalism minor, at Waynesburg University. She serves as Chapter president for the Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of America, and as an account coordinator for Red Brick Communications. Maura hopes to combine her passion for public relations, writing and sports in her future career.