Each September, PRSA takes the opportunity to spotlight ethics, which must be a constant focus for the PR profession regardless of which month we’re in. Without rigorous study and application of ethical principles, trust is inevitably lost, and without trust the PR function and organizational life deteriorate into dysfunction or failure.
PRSA research confirms that our members view PRSA’s ethics programs as our most important content area, and our most valued versus other sources. On behalf of PRSA’s Board of Directors, I’d like to thank and recognize our Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), led by Chair Nance Larsen, APR, Fellow PRSA, and 14 other members from across PRSA who contribute their knowledge and perspectives. They do an exemplary job of pointing the way toward sound ethical concepts and best practices.
Thanks to BEPS’ leadership, September will bring a variety of Ethics Month resources including webinars, blog posts, articles and Twitter chats. With a common theme, “PR Ethics Counsel: Be Prepared,” topics will include providing ethics counsel to senior management, ethical decision-making models, performing a personal ethics assessment, building personal relationships and credibility, and more. Please mark your calendars for the following Ethics Month activities:
- Tuesday, Sept. 4, 8 p.m. ET – Twitter Chat, “Ethics Counsel Today: No Boundaries” #EthicsMonth
- Thursday, Sept. 13, 3 p.m. ET – Webinar, “Developing a Personal Crisis Preparedness Plan”
- Tuesday, Sept. 18, 8 p.m. ET – Twitter Chat, “Preparing Students for Ethical Careers in Journalism and Public Relations” #EthicsMonth
Stay tuned to PRSA channels to benefit from these practical learning opportunities. They are especially important in a time of fractious public discourse and discouraging incivility. While unpleasant, those conditions are actually great opportunities for public relations professionals with the knowledge, skills and perspective to enable healthy exchanges of ideas, even among groups in conflict.
As we continue into Ethics Month, and with the ongoing ethical challenges presented in our daily professional and personal lives, I’d like to share a helpful insight from past PRSA International Conference speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham. This is from his book, “The Soul of America, the Battle for our Better Angels”:
“To reflexively resist one side or the other without weighing the merits of a given issue is all too common — and all too regrettable. By closing our minds to even the remote possibility that a political leader with whom we always disagree might have a point about a particular matter is to preemptively surrender the capacity of the mind to shape our public lives. Of course, it may be that you believe, after consideration, that the other side is wrong — but at least take a minute to make sure. To expect to get everything you want simply because you want it is to invite frustration. Reform is slow work, and it is for neither the fainthearted nor the impatient.”
Wishing us all stout hearts and patience, I look forward to learning from BEPS and fellow PRSA members during Ethics Month.
Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the 2018 chair of PRSA.