PRSA Ethics Awareness Month: How to Be An Ethical PR Professional

This is a guest post by Carol Kerbaugh, Boston University PRSSA’s Programming Coordinator.

When most of the world views PR professionals as flacks and spin doctors, how can we, as the up-and-coming generation of young professionals, dispel this long-standing stereotype? There is one simple answer: act ethically.

Informing and educating professionals about issues surrounding PR ethics is a key tenet of PRSA’s mission. During September, PRSA is holding Ethics Awareness Month to stress the importance of acting ethically when conducting business. PRSA outlines clear and specific guidelines for ethical PR practices in the Member Code of Ethics. We students should familiarize ourselves with these guidelines and keep them in mind when entering the workforce.

The Member Code of Ethics explains how protecting the free flow of information, encouraging healthy competition, disclosing information, safeguarding confidences and avoiding conflicts of interest can enable PR professionals to work ethically.

Free Flow of Information: Be honest in all communications. Truthful and accurate information is in the public’s best interest.

Competition: Don’t let your work alienate competitors. Competition is a vital part of a healthy business environment.

Disclosure of Information: Accurately report and communicate all information that the public may need to make an informed decision.

Safeguarding Confidences: Protect and respect confidentiality and private information.

Conflicts of Interest: Avoid and disclose any conflicts of interest between yourself and a client or organization before getting involved with a project.

Enhance the Profession: Refuse to work with clients who do not adhere to the same ethical guidelines. Work with colleagues to ensure ethical practices are being carried out throughout your organization. Report practices that do not align with your organization’s standards.

Obeying these guidelines will help PR professionals create honest relationships based on trust with various publics – consumers, media, government. By doing our work ethically, we will improve the image of our profession and show the world that PR isn’t really about front groups, pay-for-play journalism, blogs written by insiders and undisclosed sponsorships.

If you are interested in learning more about #PRethics, participate in PRSA’s Tweet Chat on September 25 at 3:00pm to discuss ethical issues facing young professionals.

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