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Ethics Hero or Villain?
By Minnesota PRSA Admin
Posted on 1/12/2021 10:22 AM

By Candee Wolf, APR
Minnesota PRSA Ethics Officer

I recently rejoined the Minnesota PRSA Board as Ethics Officer because I strongly believe in the power of communication and that it is the responsibility of ethical professionals to use that power for good.

Jennifer Bagdade, 2021 president of Minnesota PRSA, shared a message recently with chapter members and touched on ethics, power and responsibility. In her message, Bagdade noted, “The Peter Parker principle says: ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’ We, as communicators, have a great power because of our critical role in influencing and educating our stakeholders. Our PRSA Code of Ethics guides us in our obligation to be truthful, honest and accurate.”

First, Spiderman is one of my favorite superheroes so hats off to the Peter Parker reference. But most importantly, it’s a great summation of the truth. Most of us have the opportunity to wield power at some point and it’s telling how individuals (and companies) use such influence.

The PRSA Code of Ethics includes core values and provisions of conduct that guide the behaviors and decision-making for public relations professionals. Some of these values and provisions are:

  • Honesty: Adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.
  • Fairness: Deal fairly with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, the media and the general public; Respect all opinions and support the right of free expression.
  • Free Flow of Information: Protect and advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information is essential to serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision-making in a democratic society.
  • Disclosure of Information: Open communication fosters trust with the public by revealing all information needed for responsible decision-making.

Seems simple and straightforward, right? It is! Yet, we as humans don’t always get it right. Ethics is not a one-time effort. Ethical choices are part of our daily professional and personal lives. We see this play out continually across all industries, all professions and every societal group.

As communication professionals, leaders and humans joined together across the globe, we choose if we use our power for good or for harm. We can choose to be the superhero or villain of our own stories. Which do you want to be?

Candee Wolf, APR, is Founder and Principal of Wolf Olson Communications. She currently serves as Ethics Officer of Minnesota PRSA and has previously served as President of the organization.

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