Advocacy Ethics

Ethics Month Tweet Chat Recap: Value of PR Ethics Rising

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September is Ethics Month at PRSA. And in honor of this annual celebration of the education and focus on ethical standards in public relations, PRSA and the CIPR co-hosted a #PRethics Tweet chat Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011, on the state of ethics in PR. What transpired was a truly inspiring hour of discussion, debate and dialogue about the core ethical issues public relations professionals around the world face daily.

You can get a full transcript of the chat here and a PDF version here. Read on for the CliffNotes version.

We’d be remiss if we did not address the importance of this Tweet chat and of enhancing ethical standards in PR. It is something that both of our organizations firmly believe in and will continue to pursue for years to come. Simply put: Ethics form the backbone of PRSA and the CIPR. Our respective ethics codes — PRSA’s Code of Ethics and the CIPR’s Code of Conduct — are well established as the profession’s global standards for ethical conduct.

If anyone ever had any doubt about the significant role and value that ethics plays in PR professionals’ levels, Tuesday’s Tweet chat stopped that idle chatter cold in its tracks. We were impressed with the level of commitment and interest among the commenters to better understand and uphold ethical standards. From @thefishareloose Tweeting that “socialmedia and access to Internet is making it harder for people to hide a lie which should help show why #prethics is so important” to @brandjack commenting that “ethical behavior is what gets results” for clients and organizations, the chat demonstrated the level of recognition and respect that ethics now has in public relations.

An overriding theme of the discussion was how we can take the respective ethics codes of PRSA and CIPR and use those to form a stronger global standard for ethical conduct in public relations. It’s certainly an idea we are interested in exploring.

A good foundation for this effort may be the Code of Ethics from the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, of which PRSA and the CIPR are members. The challenge before us now is how to build upon the important progress that has been made in furthering ethical standards in PR, not to mention the significant cultural issues that will inevitably arise, to develop a set of true global ethics standards. It is something we are keen to explore.

A few highlights from this week’s Ethics Month Tweet chat:

On the topic of the value of #PRethics, @MGreer_PR had the following to say:

Ethical behaviour saves money. Look at how much #phonehacking has cost Murdoch: fines, lost sales, share price.

The issue of enforcement of ethical standards (something that PRSA has addressed previously), came up in the discussion, with many commenters divided on whether global bodies, such as the CIPR and PRSA, should enforce ethical standards. @NickLucido says it should be up to a PR professional’s employer and/or client to enforce ethical standards by not hiring unethical practitioners.

A question was raised midway through the chat as to whether #PRethics are different than business ethics. The CIPR’s Elizabeth Bowen addressed the point perfectly when she commented that “PR is a management function therefore in business all the ethics are the same.”

Many more important and interesting issues were discussed and debate during the PRSA-CIPR Ethics Month Tweet chat. You can get a full flavor of the discussion by reading the transcript here. And be sure to join in the next PRSA Ethics Month Tweet chat at 3 p.m. EDT Sept. 13. Follow along or join the discussion by using hashtag #PRethics

You can find more commentary and insight on PRSA’s Ethics Month here. And for CIPR’s commentary and ethics resources, click here.

Follow the #PRethics conversation here — or read the transcript, embedded below.

Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, is chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Jane Wilson MCIPR, is CEO of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

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Rosanna Fiske and Jane Wilson

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