It’s September, and that makes it “Ethics Awareness Month” for PRSA nationally and for the Colorado Chapter. In honor of the month, and due to the extreme importance of ethics in public relations, the Ethics Committee decided to try something different. We asked Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to declare September as “Ethics Month in Colorado” for public relations and communications practitioners. He did. You can view the proclamation and the Chapter’s news release about the governor’s edict. The national PRSA organization was very pleased with our efforts here in Colorado.

And although such a designation is only ceremonial or honorary, it does serve a very important purpose. It reminds us that as PR professionals, we have the duty and responsibility to communicate ethically all year long – day in and day out – and that we cannot just give lip service to ethical conduct for one month during the year. As members of PRSA, we all have agreed to abide by the national PRSA Code of Ethics.

Fulfilling this responsibility can be a real challenge. Personally, I have walked away from two employment positions due to severe ethical conflicts during my 30-year career in corporate, nonprofit and agency PR and communications. It sure wasn’t easy – those jobs were my bacon and benefits, as well as a good piece of my ego and self-esteem. But I did it, and felt better because of it. I AM better because of it. As they say, at least I kept my integrity.

I am sure many of you have already faced ethical conflicts in your careers. If you haven’t, you certainly will someday.  If you haven’t read the Code of Ethics for awhile, this month would be a good time to review it and take advantage of the other ethics resources that PRSA offers. Even if you are lucky enough to never have to face an ethical issue – or have to counsel top management about ethical conduct against their deepest wishes and desires – the Code and the resources will give you a strong underpinning of knowledge about what is right and good when it comes to ethical practice.

I also want to use this opportunity to sincerely thank the members of the PRSA Colorado Ethics Committee for their great work, ideas and input this year. First, to Melissa Hendricks APR, who drafted it and worked with the Governor’s office to get the proclamation issued. Then to all of the other members who have contributed significantly:  Matt Boulger, Andrea Brito-Amador, Jennifer Elizabeth Dulles APR, and Doug Hock APR.  Thank you all for your great work with this committee!

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