Unethical behavior, corruption and scandal plague the news cycle, and it is our job as public relations professionals to protect ourselves and our company from suffering due to poor decisions. It is important for PR professionals to be sincere advocates for their client. The PRSA Code of Ethics is a guide to help you navigate decisions in personal and professional aspects of your life. This semester I had the unique opportunity of creating and implementing a campaign focusing on ethics.
PRSSA National recognizes September as Ethics Month and is dedicated to raising awareness about the PRSA Code of Ethics. Through our partnership with PRSA Alabama to raise awareness of ethics, we created the #EthicsStartWithYou campaign.
The PRSA Alabama client team conducted research to measure students’ awareness levels of ethics through focus groups and surveys to obtain as much information before planning and implementation.
One of the primary components of the #EthicsStartWithYou campaign was the hashtag. The client team used the #EthicsStartWithYou hashtag in all forms of communication, including social media content, blog posts and newsletters. Its purpose was to inspire a conversation on social media and motivate others to partake in ethical practices.
The peak of the campaign was the PR Ethics: Take It Personally With Lilly Ledbetter event, which focused on Ledbetter’s role in establishing equal rights in the workplace. Local PRSSA Chapters and PRSA professionals gathered to hear Ledbetter give a keynote speech and later participated in breakout sessions to network among students and professionals. Attendees walked away more knowledgeable on the topic of ethics and how to make ethical decisions as professionals.
In addition to the event, our team tabled on campus, distributed weekly newsletters and gave a Code of Ethics presentation at a Capstone Agency meeting. While tabling, we used a wheel to play a trivia game testing students’ knowledge of ethics. The newsletters were sent to local PRSSA Chapters and they examined multiple aspects of ethics like plagiarism and the importance of factual information. Beginning with ethical discussions and concluding with a quiz and case studies, each newsletter engaged readers. At the Capstone Agency meeting, we covered each section of PRSA’s Code of Ethics. Then, we took to Twitter to host a chat to gauge the audience’s knowledge levels. Participants were awarded an ethics themed button.
The communications industry runs on credibility; if you are unethical in your practices, it is impossible to gain trust from your clients. We can work through ethical dilemmas by understanding the PRSA Code of Ethics. We must begin implementing ethical practices into our academic affairs so we can be ethical public relations practitioners.
This campaign is proof if you work ethically, your work will be successful. The #EthicsStartWithYou campaign was a rewarding experience, providing me with lifelong skills and knowledge for choosing the ethical route.
Reilly Abshire is a junior copywriter at The Capstone Agency from Savannah, Georgia. Abshire is apart of PRSSA, PRCA and is the editorial director of UA’s Spoon University.
Erica Howie is a junior copywriter at The Capstone Agency from Atlanta, Georgia. Erica is a member of Capstone Adfed, Alice Magazine and the co-founder of the upcoming internet magazine, Paprika.