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Professionalism and Ethics in the PR World

Ethics and professionalism each play a huge role in the public relations industry, and it is important for any PR executive to remain well versed in each of these subjects. Both topics are connected, considering that one’s professionalism can be compromised if they do not make the right ethical decision in the work place. PR professionals must be educated on ethics and professionalism in order to stay relevant and make the right decisions while on the job.
The topic of ethics can be very complicated at times. With several different philosophies surrounding the topic, and so many opposing viewpoints on what is right and wrong, there is still much to be learned about this complex subject. To many, ethics is known as a moral branch of philosophy. This branch of philosophy addresses right and wrong conduct. Originally, the term ethics came from the Greek word “ethos,” that is used to describe the beliefs and values of a community, nation, or ideology. Over the years, philosophers divided ethics into three major areas of study. These areas of study include meta-ethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. It is important for any PR professional to study ethics as much as possible, so they are able to make the right decision if they ever face an ethical dilemma in the workplace.
The topic of professionalism goes hand-in-hand with ethics, and it is important for all PR practitioners to remain professional at all times. The Webster’s dictionary defines professionalism as “the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.” The definition of professionalism is fairly simple to understand. In today’s world, those trained to do a specific job or educated in a specific field are usually held to a certain standard in the workplace. These people are expected to look, dress and behave in a way that is seen as “professional” by their peers and colleagues. When a person stays up to par with this professional standard, it will likely increase their overall success when looking for a job or carrying out tasks for a job they may already have.
When PR practitioners choose not to practice ethics and professionalism on the job, it usually results in hurting their organization or personal reputation. This is why it is important for everyone to conduct themselves professionally and make the right ethical decisions.

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PR writing is key in Youth Oasis campaign

In any communication course, book or blog, you will learn that good writing is the most important skill to have in the mass media field. It is the backbone to creating and communicating messages. Even when a message isn’t disseminated via written word, like oral or visual, there is almost always a written component involved. Because of this, your writing helps to determine how your audience perceives you and the level of its engagement.

Although I am the Broad Magnolias writing director, I’m not biased in thinking that writing is the most vital aspect of our campaign for Youth Oasis. Our client provides a much needed service, emergency care for homeless youth in Louisiana. Because Youth Oasis’ service holds such social magnitude, it’s important that we make sure to carefully communicate its messages to the public.

Through our campaign, we will provide 10 media deliverables for Youth Oasis to utilize. All of these require some form of writing. Some deliverables are more directly dependent on writing, like our event speech, press release, event plan memo, media training guide, social media strategy plan and media kit. The others that don’t necessarily focus on the writing, still include it—our stewardship program, rebranding style guide, promotional video and media contact list. Because writing is so prevalent in our campaign, we must practice all of the aspects of good writing.

There are many opinions out there on what constitutes as good writing. In public relations, good writing effectively and creatively communicates a brand’s message to the audience. In order to accomplish this, practitioners must follow the three golden rules of PR writing:

  • Be consistent – Writing must be consistent within its medium. AP style is the standard for writing in all mass communication fields. It must also consistently use the same voice and tone across all messages, in order to help establish a company’s brand.
  • Be accurate – Writing needs to contain accurate and honest information, as well as correct spelling and grammar. If writing contains falsities or is confusing to read, a company could lose credibility with its public.
  • Be relevant – Whether a piece of writing is informative or entertaining, it has to be relevant to the intended audience’s wants and needs. If a reader doesn’t have use for the message, you will be ignored.

Throughout this campaign, I have made sure that the Broad Magnolias staff follows all of these rules when producing written content. But most importantly, I have kept in mind that we are not writing as individuals, or even as Broad Magnolias PR. We are writing as Youth Oasis.  I, and the rest of the Broad Magnolias team, commit to maintain the voice of Youth Oasis and to communicate it’s message—not our own.

To learn more about the voice and message of Youth Oasis, reach out on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to come back next week for another lesson learned in the Broad Magnolias campaign.