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September is Ethics Month

By Debra Peterson, APR 2019 PRSA Board Chair

Public relations is built on the foundation of honesty, trust and commitment to serve the public good. At PRSA, we take those responsibilities seriously as evidenced by the strength of our Code of Ethics and the standards we set for ourselves in our own practice of the profession.

As we celebrate Ethics Month this September, it’s important to remember that applying your ethical principles must be deliberate and a continuous focus throughout the year. This is why this year’s theme, “Ethics Every Day,” is so appropriate.

Acting ethically can be demanding at times, but as Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. said, “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” To help you navigate some of the challenges you may face, we’re showcasing a number of programs next month, covering the most important trends happening today in the industry.

Following are among the highlights of Ethics Month:

Sept. 5 (3:00 PM, EDT)
Webinar: PR Ethics: Take It Personally
Robby Johnson, APR, Ethics Chair, PRSA Alabama and Stacy Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, past Ethics Chair, PRSA Alabama present the Chapter’s 2018 campaign to promote ethics in PR and discuss how it drove member engagement and increased awareness in their community.

Sept. 10 (1:00 PM, EDT)
Conference Call: Moral Reasoning and Development Across Industries of Mass Communications
This study examined how professional journalists, public relations executives and advertising executives scored in a moral development test. There have been significant changes since a similar study was conducted 10 years ago and Marlene S. Neill Ph.D., APR and AEJMC Media Ethics Division Head & Programming Chair, will lead a discussion of potential factors impacting the results.

Sept. 18 (1:00 PM, EDT)
Twitter chat: Legal and Ethical Dimensions: Using Online Data for Public Relations Strategies
Join the discussion at #EthicsMonth

Sept. 19 (9:00 PM, EDT)
Twitter chat: PR Licensing----“Enhancing the Profession”
Join the discussion at#EthicsMonth

Sept. 24 (7:00 PM, EDT)
Twitter chat: Fighting for Ethical Integrity in a Time of Fake News, Misinformation & Disinformation
Join the discussion at#EthicsMonth

Sept. 26 (12:00 Noon, EDT)
Webinar: Social Media, The Law and Public Relations Practice
Cayce Myers, Ph.D., LL.M., J.D., APR examines the major legal trends affecting the practice of public relations and digital communication, including social media policymaking, regulations of social media promotions and ownership of social media content. Myers is an Associate Professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Communication where he teaches public relations, and he also serves as the legal research editor for the Institute for Public Relations.

I encourage you to participate in the many offerings during Ethics Month which will provide provocative thinking about “Ethics Every Day.” Thank you to our Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), led by BJ Whitman, APR, Fellow PRSA and a committee of 10 dedicated members, for their work assembling this great lineup and continued advocacy on behalf of PRSA’s Code of Ethics.

For more information on Ethics Month programming, be sure to check out the Communities homepage of MyPRSA.


Debra Peterson is president of Comm365, a strategic communications consulting firm. Most of her career has been spent working for Fortune 500 communications and technology companies, serving in a variety of managerial and executive roles, including media relations, issues management, employee communications, governmental affairs, community relations and events and sponsorships. She has extensive experience developing and executing communications strategies and tactics related to mergers and acquisitions as a result of the ongoing M&A in the tech sector.

In addition to her volunteer service with PRSA, Debra serves on the board of Growing Futures Early Education Center, which provides children and their families with high-quality early education and comprehensive support services.

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