Ethics Thought Leadership

Ethics Month, and a Time for Continued Professional Development

Each September, PRSA recognizes Public Relations Ethics Month, supported by programs presented by the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS). This year’s theme, Public Relations Ethics: Strengthening Our Core, guides a special focus on the six core values highlighted in the PRSA Code of Ethics. Please join the discussion through blog posts, webinars and Twitter Chats (#PREthics) scheduled throughout the month of September and consider the content a catalyst for integrating ethics and ethical practice into your daily communication activities.

No matter what stage we are at in the PR profession, we will always be first and foremost a student. I am currently a student, so it is slightly easier for me to identify with this. Continued learning through professional development and experience should always be valued, not only for our personal growth, but for that of our publics.

Expertise is a tenet of the PRSA Code of Ethics that upholds this notion:

We acquire and responsibly use specialized knowledge and experience. We advance the profession through continued professional development, research, and education. We build mutual understanding, credibility, and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences.

We acquire and responsibly use specialized knowledge and experience through our time learning in the field. The skills we develop, as everything else, should not be used maliciously against others. I believe the saying goes, sharing is caring.

We advance the profession through continued professional development, research and education by pushing ourselves to take the next step and improve our skills. This means continuously attending trainings, webinars and even conferences. Even though we might feel like we have a lot under our belt already, we still have much to learn.

A perfect opportunity to exercise this is by attending the webinars that PRSA is offering this month on ethics. “Incorporating Ethics in the Public Relations Classroom: Tips, Tools and Resources for Communications Educators” will be held Sept. 14; “The Ethical Expectations of Leadership” will be held Sept. 19.

By continuing to learn and challenge ourselves, we build mutual understanding, credibility and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences. For example, we can start exploring diverse perspectives and opinions that we may have not encountered before. This helps us reach that “wide array of institutions and audiences.”

Twitter chats stimulate this type of learning and engaged discussion. Lucky for you, PRSA will be hosting them Sept. 12, discussing “Strategies for Revealing and Disclosing Mistakes and Bad News,” and “Truth in Communications,” Sept. 25.

Expertise is only one of the values to be guided by in our Code of Ethics. Expertise doesn’t simply mean to be an expert or the master. It means to be open to learning. Be a student, for as Yoda, a wise Jedi teacher, once said, “Much to learn, you still have.”

Ashleigh Kathryn is a senior at the University of South Florida. She majors in mass communications with a concentration in public relations. She is a vice president of professional development on the PRSSA executive committee.

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