I’ll be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what PRSSA was all about when I first joined. I knew I wanted to be more involved on campus and as a PR minor, joining simply made sense. It wasn’t until afterward that I found out just how respectable and professional the organization and its members are.
I was very impressed when I read the PRSA Code of Ethics and how the organization upholds its members to these standards in their practice. As an employee in the nonprofit world, it got me thinking of my organization and how it could benefit from its own code of ethics. The PRSA Code of Ethics was the perfect place to start for ideas!
The first thing that caught my attention was the emphasis on advocacy. The code states, “We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts, and viewpoints to aid informed public debate.” At my job, we work to revitalize our downtown district and provide the community with resources about our historic buildings and how to start a business, among other things. We represent not just the downtown community but the entire city as a whole. It is our job to distribute accurate information and ensure that folks are informed about what’s going on downtown in business, real estate and events. Communicating this commitment to those we represent would help to foster trust and build healthy relationships with our stakeholders.
I also felt that PRSA’s approach to fairness is one that any business or organization should consider. It says, “We deal fairly with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, the media, and the general public. We respect all opinions and support the right of free expression.” This philosophy is especially important in the age of social media where anyone can share their opinion regarding a service or product. Treating every individual with the same respect shows stakeholders that you value fairness and are capable of taking an objective approach to issues that may arise. An organization in the nonprofit sector can especially benefit from adopting values such as this.
These are just a couple of examples of how the PRSA Code of Ethics has inspired me to think of what I can incorporate into my organization’s own code. No matter what industry you work in, you can’t go wrong when you communicate your values and expectations as an organization. Building trust and maintaining a healthy relationship with stakeholders is instrumental to any organization’s success.
Mariah Irvin is an English major and public relations minor graduating from Missouri Southern State University in the fall of 2019. She currently works in the nonprofit sector and hopes to continue writing professionally upon graduating.