It’s Ethics month at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). This is a time to focus on ethics in PR and PRSA’s reminder to include ethics in our public relations efforts each and every day.
This focus on ethics couldn’t come at a better time. Recently, a Georgia peanut butter company executive was convicted of selling tainted peanut butter that resulted in several deaths. Volkswagen’s CEO stepped down as a result of software in millions of vehicles that allowed them to “cheat” on emissions control standards.
These are just the headlines we see – there are countless other examples that we don’t read about. What about the ethical dilemmas that small businesses face every day? These companies may not impact as many people but business owners should pay attention to what’s happening to these large companies. There are consequences to unethical actions.
The public relations industry also needs to be reminded to keep our eyes open and concentrate on the big picture. Guiding our companies and clients to do the right thing is an essential element of PR. This means not just carefully crafting statements that can’t be misconstrued on social media but also impacting business operations and decisions. What’s right, honest, and fair? Are we providing PR counsel that is consistent with ethical practices? If executives aren’t listening is this the company we want to keep?
Ethics goes beyond crisis communications. Even the most honest and trustworthy companies make mistakes. And, when they do, an apology is in order and they should make the situation right. However, ethical decisions should be part of the brand, the DNA of an organization. PR can influence making decisions for the right reasons to benefit the company but also its customers and community.
Jiminy Cricket might be a character from an old Disney movie but he still has relevance today. Public relations should act as the conscience of an organization and continue its mission to guide companies in the right direction.
For more information on ethics from PRSA, visit https://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/EthicsMonth/index.html#.VgQDmPlViko