March Program Recap – Ethics in Public Relations

Article by Asya Griffin, Public Relations Fellow at the Leon County Property Appraiser’s Office 

Date: March 8, 2023
Location: Florida Sheriffs Association

Thank you to our event sponsors: Target Print & MailBrown Lucas Consulting, and the Florida Sheriffs Association!

Dr. Patricia Whalen

The FPRA Capital Chapter’s March program featured Dr. Patricia Whalen, APR, an award-winning communications consultant with 20 years of experience educating and advising at the collegiate level. She has served on the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards and held essential corporate marketing and communications positions.

Top Takeaways:

Process for Ethical Decision-Making

PR professionals must establish ethical decisions through reason, reflection, and respect. While deciding on a moral course of action, PR professionals should consider five components:

  • What are the vital details or concerns?
  • What are the competing values at issue?
  • What would be required by the main moral theories?
  • Who will be affected by the various decisions?
  • To whom do you owe your loyalty, and how can you best serve them?

Ethical Behaviors Build Reputation

Reputation is based on trust. Building trust requires you, as a PR professional, to humanize your company and be honest. You must also maintain consistency in your words, actions, and values. Do not fake anything!

Using Enlightened Self-Interest

An organization that engages in society has enlightened self-interest (ESI). It is important to know that a successful company cannot thrive in a dysfunctional society. Companies that behave ethically and support society gain in the long run-in terms of reputation and profits. The use of ESI can help your CEO negotiate with the shareholders.

As a PR professional, Dr. Whalen has used ESI to keep a school system operating after tax reassessments and to stop groundwater pollution from damaging local residences. She also made a difference by allowing union members to transfer to non-union workplaces and get full retirement benefits.