During my last semester as a college student, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons to take with me throughout life. I finally feel like I am applying the knowledge that I’ve acquired, like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon.
In 11 days, I will be graduating with my degree in strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations. Throughout my college career, I did not know how important ethics is to the communications field. I could understand that it is important to make ethical decisions, but I didn’t know what that truly meant.
Now that I’ve finished the ethics class, I will share the top five ethical tips for a public relations professional.
1. If you don’t know if something is ethical, check the code of ethics. For public relations people, use the PRSA Code of Ethics. If you aren’t a PR person, there is probably a code of ethics for your field.
2. Ethics in the workplace provide framework. A company without ethics is like a house without beams and foundation. Make sure that the company you work for has an ethical code, and that they follow it. You don’t want to end up in a sticky situation.
3. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s exempt from ethical codes. Make sure that all of your online work is just as fair and accurate as your printed work. There have been instances of big public relations firms creating fake blogs for their clients. Don’t ruin your reputation for just a few blog posts.
4. Know and understand the first amendment. As journalists, and Americans, it’s pertinent to know our first amendment rights. Freedom of speech, press, petition, religion and assembly are not supposed to be taken away by government.
5. Know the difference between libel and slander. Slander is spoken and libel is written. As a public relations professional, it is important to be wary of both. This can also link back to the code of ethics. Is it fair, is it accurate?
I will continue to use these tips through my career to make ethical decisions for myself, my clients, and my company.