Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 6, 2009

Ethics Month Is Over; What Do You Plan to Do About It?

September brought so many wonderful things. The kids were back to school, the weather turned a bit cooler, and according to PRSA, it was ethics month. Ideally, it was a time for us to focus on the ethical aspects of our industry, our respective organizations and, perhaps, ourselves.

If you read Public Relations Tactics, PR Week, PR News, or any other industry publication, you no doubt noticed a laser-like focus on ethics last month. The question is: beyond increased awareness, is any of this moving us to action this month and beyond?

A survey conducted by my colleagues, Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., and Judith Rogala, for their book “Trust Inc”., showed that less than 10 percent of public relations professionals had ever received training on how to make an ethical decision. So, while we all like to think we are ethical, most of us struggle with what action to take when faced with an ethical dilemma.

While awareness of ethics is great, the ability to act ethically is even better. Ethics cannot be a once-a-year focus. Rather, it needs to be an ongoing focus. To that end, PRSA’s Ethics Web page offers some terrific guidance on this, including some real world guidance on issues many of us face on a day-to-day basis. So, in celebration of ethics month, go beyond mere awareness and spend a few moments reviewing these recommendations so you can face today’s challenges with the practical knowledge you need to work as ethically as possible.

Ann Subervi is president and CEO of Utopia Communications, Inc., an ethically focused public relations agency based in Red Bank, N.J. A member of PRSA’s Counselors Academy’s executive committee, Ann is an endorsed trainer of Trust Inc.’s LEAP methodology for values-based leadership in the United States. For more on ethics in the public relations industry, visit her blog, Ethical Optimist.

To learn more about PRSA’s Member Code of Ethics, or for ethics resources, visit

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