Research From BEPS Results in Book Providing Guidance on Ethics Counsel

Over the past few years, PRSA’s Board of Ethics & Professional Standards (BEPS) has conducted several studies on ethics in public relations, resulting in four journal articles, four academic conference presentations and awards from the International Public Relations Research Conference and the Media Ethics Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

We are pleased to report that our latest project has resulted in a book, “Public Relations Ethics: Senior PR Pros Tell Us How to Speak Up and Keep Your Job,” published by Business Expert Press. All of these efforts are part of BEPS‘ commitment to providing thought leadership on ethics in public relations. This latest project was completed in collaboration with the members of PRSA’s College of Fellows, who participated in in-depth interviews and survey research. The study was supported through two grants from the Arthur W. Page Center.

This book provides guidance for young professionals, who aspire to reach leadership positions, in the form of anecdotes from senior executives on offering ethical counseling and advice on how to navigate internal politics while earning respect for their strategic counsel.

This advice is especially critical as we found in our 2016 study that young professionals did not feel prepared to provide ethics counsel. We pursued this latest study in response to those findings. Here is a preview of what topics are covered in the book:

  • Chapter 1 Why Does Ethics Matter in Public Relations?
  • Chapter 2 Influence and Power, Why Should I Care?
  • Chapter 3 Don’t Overlook Your Office Neighbors: Why You Need to Focus on Building Internal Relationships
  • Chapter 4 Influence Strategies Senior Pros Prefer to Use
  • Chapter 5 More Powerful Together…Recruiting Allies and Forming Coalitions
  • Chapter 6 Last Resort Approaches…Rocking the Boat and Whistleblowing
  • Chapter 7 How to Prepare for Ethics Counsel: Mentors, Training and Other Resources
  • Chapter 8 Being Proactive: How to Build an Ethical Culture
  • Chapter 9 Practical Advice from Senior Pros
  • Chapter 10 Conclusion: Everyday Practices

In addition to the book, we presented on this study at the 2017 PRSA International Conference and Chapter conferences in Dallas and Houston. Let’s keep the conversation going. Ethics are foundational to effective public relations.

Dr. Marlene S. Neill is an assistant professor at the Baylor University in the Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media. Her research focuses on public relations management, ethics and integrated communication. She has published research in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Public Relations Review and the Journal of Communication Management. She is a member of the PRSA Board of Ethics & Professional Standards.

About the author

Marlene S. Neill, Ph.D., APR


    • Barb,

      Thank you for your support and encouragement. We are grateful for the 58 senior executives who set aside time to discuss their experiences providing ethics counsel. We hope this will be a resource for young professionals who aspire to become public relations leaders.

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