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@Shonali@TomWillis@archanaverma You may be sorry you invited me into the conversation! But, we’re talking about three separate issues.

Credentialing, as @shonali notes, currently exists in the form of the APR and ABC credentials offered via the UAB’s eight participating organizations (@PRSA is one) and @IABC, respectively. The credential is voluntary (e.g., you don’t need one to practice public relations), and while ethics comprises 15 percent of the knowledge base necessary to become APR, there’s no mechanism for stripping a professional of his/her APR designation for ethical misconduct. A PRSA member, however, may have his/her membership revoked for misstatements or omissions on their membership applications or for being convicted of a felony or misdemeanor related to the conduct of public relations; but not, for example, for something like “Black PR.”

Why is there no enforcement mechanism tied to the APR or even more broadly to PRSA membership? Cost, lack of cooperation and legal liability are the main reasons. Investigating alleged ethical violations requires significant investments of time, money and resources, which PRSA (a non-profit) didn’t and doesn’t have. In fact, for the first 50 years following the introduction and adoption of PRSA’s Code of Ethics, PRSA actually tried to “enforce” its code, but the meager results of the effort in relation to the time and resources required, failed to provide a valuable return on investment for PRSA or its members.

Not to mention that PRSA didn’t and doesn’t have any authority to enforce ethical behavior among the broader profession outside its membership.

So, at this point, the conversation usually turns to licensing as a solution; that is, a certification that public relations professionals would be required to have (like the CPA is for public accountants). But, there are still practicing accountants who are not CPAs, and with so many definitions of public relations and the many different hats we wear, it’s likely that a large number of public relations professionals would continue to practice without being “certified.” There are other issues with certification, as well, among them what would we license (the term or tactics); whom would be licensed; who would issue and manage the licenses; what would the cost be and who would bear the cost (individuals or employers); would licenses be issued on a state-by-state basis or federally; can consensus on a formal training a curriculum be achieved; and, do we have enough “trainers” to meet the demand? Even after answering all of those questions, we’d still want to know what the likely impact on public relations jobs and budgets would be …

1 year, 6 months ago on Shedding Light on Black PR

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 @Shonali I received this email as well (maybe you noticed!), and I replied immediately to the sender. I pointed out that PRSA's blog doesn't cover the garment and accessories industry, explained several reasons why the email was considered poor form, and suggested how similar communications could be approached in the future. I also went to great lengths to note that I was trying to be helpful, not critical, and I hoped that the sender would take my message in the spirit that it was intended. Given the sender was an intern, I thought this was a better approach (for the sender AND the profession) than a public shaming. While I can understand the benefit of using such missteps as "teachable moments," I struggle with our profession's proclivity for eating its own over honest mistakes. Maybe that's just the nature of social media, but I can't help but wonder whether PR Dummies and the Bad Pitch Blog do more to hurt the profession than help it.

2 years, 2 months ago on The Intern and the Executive Coach, Part I: Clueless

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 @HowieSPM @rustyspeidel @ginidietrich Please. With all due respect, PRSA does more on the ethics front than any other member organization of public relations professionals. Point me to a single comment that A.W. Page, the Council, IABC or anyone else made on the B-M/Facebook incident. I can point you to hundreds of examples of PRSA's speaking out on ethical conduct.We tried "enforcement" for a number of years (http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/AboutEnforcement). It was an expensive failure, because (1) PR is an unregulated industry and (2) the First Amendment. But to say we don't "f-n care" because we don't take the approach YOU want? Just tell me, on whose authority would we be acting, and who's paying for it? The 22,000 paying members of PRSA? They've already agreed to abide by our Code or lose their membership.

2 years, 6 months ago on Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

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 @rustyspeidel  PRSA membership is tied to ethical behavior. Every member must sign an ethics pledge (http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/EthicsPledge), and membership revocation is a consequence of not compliance. We just don't have the same authority/standing with non-members.

 

Interestingly enough, ethics is a big part of the APR credential, that so many dismiss as irrelevant.

2 years, 6 months ago on Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

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 @DannyBrown  @thornley  @ginidietrich This is true; however, individuals are members of PRSA, whereas firms are members of the Council of PR Firms and PRCA, and thus the impact of being denied membership is disproportionate. For example, if the Council of PR Firms removed Burson-Marstellar as a member for the Facebook incident, that would have a much larger impact than, say, removing the one or two BM staffers directly responsible (who weren't PRSA members, in any case). That said, I don't think it would be fair to punish an otherwise reputable firm for having a few under-trained staffers, which I think was the issue in BM's case. But a repeat offender, like 5W ...

2 years, 6 months ago on Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

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 @rustyspeidel You may be unaware of the things that PRSA is doing to drive the ethical discussion, but we're actually doing quite a bit on that front

 

In September of last year, PRSA hosted its annual “Ethics Awareness Month,” which seeks to inform and educate the public relations profession about ongoing issues and concerns regarding ethics. PRSA wrote a series of commentaries and blog posts, held discussions, hosted webinars and developed other events that helped public relations professionals, as well as the clients they serve and the public they interact with, better understand the evolving issues surrounding public relations ethics and how their work can meet the profession’s ethical standards.

 

The 2011 “Ethics Awareness Month” also featured a weekly Tweet chat series, the first of which PRSA and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations co-hosted. This helped expand the discussion to an international level and provide better understanding of the global nature of public relations ethics.

 

The ethical use of interns was another issue PRSA tackled in 2011. We released a Professional Standards Advisory in February, in which we made clear our belief that it is unethical not to provide some type of  compensation to interns, whether monetary or college credit.

 

These efforts complemented and extended the impact of PRSA’s advocacy efforts, through which PRSA used a series of ethical transgressions on the part of the profession as teachable moments to demonstrate what constitutes ethical practice (and what doesn’t), and reinforce the importance of ethical communications practices. To my knowledge, PRSA was the ONLY "governing body" to comment publicly on the Burson-Marstellar/Facebook situation (http://ow.ly/9EhHn, http://ow.ly/9EhKQ, http://ow.ly/9EhOb and http://ow.ly/9EhQh). We also had a response to The Guardian article that @ginidietrich references published (http://ow.ly/9EhT2).

 

And to @ginidietrich's point about regulation, I don't know of too many professions that would invite government regulation of themselves and fail to see how it will solve PR's ethics issue. It sure didn't do much for the ethics of the finance profession.

2 years, 6 months ago on Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

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 @PaulRobertsPAR By the way, I'm on vacation out of the country next week, just so you know that I've not bailed on the discussion. I'm sure my colleage, Keith Trivitt, will be picking up where I've left off. If I'm not back in a week, though, don't come looking for me ... : )

2 years, 6 months ago on PRSA Response to PR Definition Criticism

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 @PaulRobertsPAR Paul, we're going to complete the process we began, as Dave Rickey noted in his blog post on PRSAY (I believe you commented there, as well). As he noted, though, we no longer view this as the end of the discussion, but as a chance to move forward from it. If we can arrive at a better definition through the continued work of individuals such as yourself, and a broad majority coalesces around that definition, then PRSA will support it.

 

BTW, we don't disagree at all on the involvement of public realtions folks from all walks of the profession, which should and will include PRSA members. That was the whole point of crowdsourcing in the first place. I will say, though, your comment about "long-time PR pros" made me laugh. Some folks who were cricical of our initial effort accused us of involving too many "long-time" PR pros, and not enough new pros. As you and I discussed via Twitter, #youjustcan'tmakeeveryonehappy.

2 years, 6 months ago on PRSA Response to PR Definition Criticism

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 @PaulRobertsPAR I'm not sure we've thought that far in advance, but would it be fair to say that it should take more than just the number of folks in this forum? Also, is it more important to have the "right" people endorse it, or have a larger number endorse it? And, just what does that endorsement look like?

 

Should we go back to the professional organizations with it? To PRSA's Chapters, as some have suggested? I think we'd like the group's opinions on those issues, and maybe we kick off the next phase of this project by making some foundational assumptions. Remember, our intent all along was never to dictate, but to facilitate, and that's what we'll be doing moving forward.

2 years, 6 months ago on PRSA Response to PR Definition Criticism

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@ginidietrich@Frank_Strong@maddiegrant@Anthony_Rodriguez@Danny Brown@PaulRobertsPAR@Shonali@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing We know our Public Relations Defined project has caused angst and even some indignation among communication professionals. We tried to approach the project with fresh thinking, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. But, that's how innovation happens, and how we learn to do better in the future.

We’ve read the articles, blog posts and comments like these, which have made it clear to us the discussion mustn't stop with the vote on three candidate definitions that currently exist. PRSA is going to keep its Public Relations Defined blog up after the winning definition is announced, with the hope that we can continue to engage professionals, including those who’ve commented in this forum and elsewhere, in a discussion about the definition of public relations.

Consider this your invitation and your opportunity to come up with something better. We'll provide any and all data from the first go-round. Our minds are open. If we can collectively move closer to a consensus definition of public relations, PRSA will support it. You can read more about our plans for moving forward here: http://bit.ly/xKiHhd.

2 years, 6 months ago on PRSA Response to PR Definition Criticism

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@Shonali I'm happy to answer some of your questions (and please know that you — or any member — can come to me at any time with questions such as these).

PRSA typically doesn't post the names of its Committee or Task Force members, other than the Chair or Co-Chairs, simply to protect their privacy. The one exception is our Nominating Committee. The full list of Committees and Task Forces is here (http://bit.ly/zLdAuc), though I do see that the Public Relations Defined Task Force is not on this list. I can't immediately explain its omission, other than thinking it could be a clerical oversight, given that the Task Force originally wasn’t expected to continue its work in 2012.

Your sense that the Task Force contained only "seasoned" professionals (thanks for being nice to the old folks like me) isn't really true. The members included three new professionals (corporate, agency and non-profit), five senior practitioners (corporate, agency and non-profit) and two academics (to ensure the definitions would be true to the research). Like the broader initiative itself, the composition was purposefully thought out to provide a range of opinions and input.

Finally, I'm not sure where PRSA dropped the ball on your involvement on this Task Force. Of course we felt you important enough to participate, which is why we reached out to you initially. I hope you'll accept my apologies on behalf of the Task Force.

2 years, 6 months ago on If You Don’t Vote/Participate…You’ve No Right To Complain

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@John Falchetto @ginidietrich @deleted_91832_Sean McGinnis

I'd argue that PRSA *did* rock the boat on this one, as we’ve done in the past and will continue to do in the future, consistent with our philosophy on professional ethics.

The PRSA Code of Ethics and the professional programming that accompanies it is intended to inspire, focus and illustrate for our members -- and the broader public relations profession -- what ethical behavior is and is not. Those who want to exact a “pound of B-M’s flesh” will argue that this is not enough; however, as I've pointed out previously, PRSA has no legislative or regulatory authority over the public relations profession. We have no manner of recourse against anyone other than the 32,000 individuals who, in joining PRSA, pledge to abide by our code (more on PRSA’s ability to “enforce” its Code of Ethics may be found at http://ow.ly/4VIGj).

Our willingness to take a stand against B-M's actions is why our Chair was quoted on the issue in the FT, USA Today, NY Times, WSJ, AdAge, PRWeek and elsewhere. Frankly, you might compare and contrast what PRSA has done to what other public relations professional organizations, such as the Council of PR Firms (of which B-M is a client paying $40K annually) and The Arthur W. Page Society have done, which is exactly nothing.

Arthur Yann is vice president of public relations for PRSA.

3 years, 4 months ago on The Ethics of Whisper Campaigns

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