As a PR professional, I have always laid emphasis on integrity while undertaking my professional duties. While it is true that a publicist is as good as their contacts, I feel the true measure of a great publicist is their integrity. It is important to work towards gaining and maintaining the trust of clients, the public and colleagues thus leading to a positive reputation in the industry.
However, integrity is a personal choice. The significance of integrity among publicists is crucial because they are entrusted with a lot of confidential and sensitive client information. How a publicist disperses that sensitive information to media, and how they handle it thereupon, is a big measure of their integrity.
It is sad to see how we have become accustomed to certain business practices and accept questionable actions or bad behaviour as the norm, as just what happens in PR. If more people are committed to a higher standard of business ethics, rather than trying to find ways to cut corners or make an extra buck, the entire profession could be lifted up. It is vital to accept only honesty and credibility from ourselves and our clients.
Work ethics should be based on high moral and integrity, of course with logic and good reasoning alongside. In an area of work such as public relations, which is infested with conflicting loyalties and problematic issues to solve on a daily basis, it is no small task. Our power is based on influence, defining issues, advocacy, moulding public policy, and determining relevance for news media. Public relations holds ethical responsibility and power and often operates behind the scenes as an influencer. How do you maintain moral and integrity?
There could be certain ways to do that. Try to gather facts from various resources. Use objectivity, detachment, and reason to sort through facts, weighing options on their merit and logic alone. This creates consistency. PR pros must consider all options and potential outcomes, not just those for clients or management, but of all other stakeholders, media, competitors.
It helps to gather perspectives from multiple stakeholders, including those external to the organisation or client leading to a broader perspective on moral dilemmas. It is important to ensure that you believe in acting with character and integrity rather than taking the easy way out or doing only what would benefit the client.
Do remember that moral judgment requires effort, study, reflection, and a critical analysis of one’s decision making. Also do not forget that there are numerous benefits to exercising moral judgment, in addition to the numerous ones of avoiding crises and lawsuits. Having a public relations career based on moral judgment builds professional credibility.
Basing your experience and your practice on integrity helps you develop a sense of what is important to you and a solid foundation for facing ethical challenges. It also strengthens the values within you and your ability to apply them to complex situations, developing a moral compass within you.
The ability of moral judgment can be extremely valuable at times of crisis or conflict by offering discernment or logical counsel to management or clients. It is often said by experts that living a life high on moral values and on integrity yields benefits in terms of trust, advancement, optimism, consistency, self-esteem, and high levels of individual autonomy or self-efficacy.
By practising morality and integrity, PR pros can help the entire public relations fraternity gain credibility and respect as a true profession based on ethics.