I was recently introduced to someone at a party and, like most first conversations with someone you just met, the person asked me what I do for a living. “I work for a Public Relations firm,” I told this person. “Oh, you’re a spin doctor,” he responded.
I politely took the time to counter this perception and explain the kind of work McDougall Communications conducts on behalf of our clients—the strategic planning, media relations, digital and social media support, internal communications, public and community affairs, and crisis counsel, to name a few. I couldn’t help but think about that interaction the next day and as I recalled the brief conversation, I realized I told him what we do but not how we do it. Everything we do is based on an ethical foundation.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has established a Code of Ethics to guide PRSA members as they carry out their ethical responsibilities. Conducting yourself in an ethical way doesn’t mean leaving out information that would change the public’s perception of your company or organization or worse, issuing denials or misinformation.
When we hold media training sessions for our clients, one of the topics we cover is “Transparency and the Truth.” Telling the truth is critical to meet the demands of the public and corporate transparency. Today, information is well-archived and easily accessible by anyone. Making false or disingenuous statements will come back to harm you and your organization.
As the PRSA Code of Ethics states, “The value of member reputation depends upon the ethical conduct of everyone affiliated with the Public Relations Society of America. Each of us sets an example for each other—as well as other professionals—by our pursuit of excellence with powerful standards of performance, professionalism, and ethical conduct.” As trusted counselors we are all obligated to conduct our business in an ethical and professional manner, and it is incumbent up us to ensure our clients live up to the same standard.
By Christopher Knospe
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