By: Katie Campbell
As a public relations practitioner, it is important to understand how to practice professionalism and implement PR ethics with every client relationship. As students in LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, we are taught to uphold the PRSA Code of Ethics on a daily basis. The Preamble states that we should strive to set positive examples for our colleagues “by our pursuit of excellence with powerful standards of performance, professionalism and ethical conduct.” The opportunity to work with real clients this semester has allowed us to practice PR professionalism outside of the classroom.
Professionalism within public relations is crucial because reputation has a major impact on the corporate well-being of every organization. As a representative of the client, public relations practitioners should conduct themselves in a professional manner to uphold strong reputations. Empower Public Relations made an effort to act professionally by dressing in business casual attire for every meeting with the client, always showing up in a timely and prepared manner, returning phone calls and emails promptly, and always communicating effectively and maturely.
Ethics can be defined as “systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior.” Ethical practice is identified as the most important obligation of a PRSA member. Many of us in Empower Public Relations are members of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and are therefore held to a higher ethical standard. A few ethical dilemmas we faced involved honesty regarding silent auction items and donations. An unethical individual could have kept gifts for themselves without telling the other members of our team. Instead, we were dedicated to the overall well-being of the client and gave all donations, including $60 worth in pennies, to Capital Area Special Olympics. Another ethical example we faced involved disclosure of information regarding tax exemption. We were asked not to give out certain details until donations were secured, and as PR professionals, we abided by this request.
Through the years, the PR profession’s reputation has evolved from spinning and persuasion to truth-telling and honesty. When communicating where the funds we raised were allocated, we made an effort to be more informational than persuasive. We were open and honest and saw strong results. This experience prepared us for situations we will face in the future and benefited our PR professionalism and ethics education overall.
Connect with Empower’s Account Executive, Katie Campbell.