This is a good thing. We work in a field that is entrusted with developing and maintaining relationships between our organizations and their stakeholders. It is a sensitive position, bound by concepts of trust and responsibility to do the right thing. Relationships, after all, are based on trust, and trust, which is hard to earn in the first place, is too easily lost by unethical behavior.
Many of you know that I do not think once-a-year training in ethics is enough. In my experience, ethical issues don’t usually smack us in the face and announce their presence with a note to check out the ethics pages at PRSA. Rather, they build slowly over time. Little things that we let slide, or just don’t think about, eventually grow to become big things. And then they smack us!
To really deliver for our clients, leaders and managers, we need to be thinking about ethics all the time and weighing the impact of organizational decisions against our professional standards. But who’s got the time? PRSA offers a variety of tools to help you. If you follow my quarterly musing on the PRSA-NCC blog, I’ve been taking you on a tour of the PRSA Code of Ethics.
This quarter, I’m going to take a little detour from my tour and introduce a neat little app that can help you keep ethics on your mind all the time.
The app, developed by PRSA, in partnership with MSLGROUP, has a distinctive “PRSA Ethics” icon that looks good on your mobile device and can serve as a daily reminder to “think ethics” every time you use your smartphone.
The home page (displayed above) welcomes you to a well designed and easy to navigate app that allows you to quickly (and painlessly) check up what our Code of Ethics has to say about a variety of situations.
A quick touch of the “Professional Values” button will provide you with insight into our values of advocacy, honesty, independence, loyalty and fairness, and “provisions of conduct,” such as being honest and accurate in all communications, revealing the sponsors of interests represented, safeguarding client confidences and avoiding conflicts of interest. Topics I discussed in my June blog.
The “Code Provisions” button provides insight into what I think is the real meat of our Code of Ethics. Here you find the core principles upon which our Code of Ethics is based: free flow of information, competition, disclosure of information, safeguarding confidences, conflicts of interest, and enhancing the profession.
You can also check into the PRSAY ethics blog, take an ethics quiz, look into the latest professional standards advisories, and send an email PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), the committee responsible for developing recommending refinements to PRSA’s ethical standards.
PRSA Chair and CEO Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, says, “The app will give professionals at all levels, who are committed to upholding the principles of ethical communications, easy access to real-time guidance to know that what they’re doing is right and, if they face questions, the support they need to justify their counsel…”
This little app goes a long way to making ethics awareness an everyday activity. Please download it and take it for a spin. I hope you find it as easy to use and as valuable as I do.
Mitch Marovitz is the Treasurer and Ethics Committee Chair for the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchmarovitz.