Flex Your #PREthics Muscles

Editor’s note: As we celebrate Public Relations Ethics Month this September, PRSA invited members of the Board of Ethics & Professional Standards (BEPS) to offer their views and thoughts on the ethical topics affecting the PR profession. Follow the blog series on PRSAY and join the national social media discussion by using the hashtag #PREthics. For a full list of Ethics Month activities visit the 2015 Ethics Month section of the PRSA site.


Professional ethics are “the principles of conduct governing an individual or group.” While, by definition, ethical conduct may seem simple enough, as we know, that is not always the case.

Like a muscle, ethical practice has to be reinforced regularly to build its strength. For that reason PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) is vigilant in its efforts to assure that our Code of Ethics are ever-present and also reinforced by Ethical Standards Advisories.

Each year, we shine a spotlight on the importance of professional ethics in public relations through “Ethics Month.” Throughout the month we reinforce our goal of “Advancing the Profession and the Professional,” through innovative and inclusive activities focused on refreshing and strengthening the values and principles that govern our profession.

As the PRSA’s National Chair, I’m proud of the educational and professional development programming that we provide. As a public relations professional, I am delighted with the variety and the depth of the activities organized by the BEPS to emphasize the importance of ethics in our day-to-day work.

I believe that the majority of ethical lapses that we see are committed simply because a person didn’t realize that what they were doing was unethical. For that reason, ethics education should not be a “once-in-a-while” concept. Ethical conduct is an everyday, all-encompassing necessity that is becoming increasingly important in today’s world of instantaneous, global communication. To reinforce that reality, “Ethics Every Day” is the title for September’s series of webinars, twitter chats, blog posts, and Tactics articles.

While I am fortunate to have met many PRSA members, leaders and general practitioners through my travels and engagements as PRSA Chair, I look forward to participating in discussions and continuing to learn from and engage with as many of you throughout these events as possible, and I hope I will “see” you online as well.

[editor’s note: A full list of activities can be found on the PRSA website]

I would also like to use this space to give an appreciative nod to the BEPS members whose good ideas and hard work can be seen in each and every activity scheduled this month. I would also encourage you to give them your feedback and suggestions throughout the month so that we can continue to build Ethics Moth as one of the premiere activities of the year for PRSA. Furthermore, I also look forward to experiencing the Ethics Month projects and programs planned by each Chapter to coincide with National activities.

September is an opportunity to flex your ethical muscles, train and retrain yourself in ethical practice and share the PR profession’s guiding ethical principles with your coworkers and colleagues. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #PREthics to join the conversation through social media throughout the month. And I look forward to continuing the discussion during our many ethics-focused sessions in planned for the PRSA 2015 International Conference in November (8-10).

“Ethics and equity and the principles of justice do not change with the calendar,” said D. H. Lawrence. So, I implore you to use this Ethics Month as your starting point for ethics every day.

Kathy Barbour, APR, is 2015 National Chair of PRSA.

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Kathy Barbour, APR

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