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  • Mary Ellen "Mel" Miller

September = Ethics Month

September is Ethics month at the Public Relations Society of America. Ethics is a subject I cover extensively in my new book, "Fill the Dam Thing Up! Building Connections: Communicating Throughout the Lifecycle of Infrastructure Projects." In fact, I devote a chapter to Kindness and Ethics in this playbook for communicators on major infrastructure projects. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 14:

Hold Fast to Ethical Principles

During the project, we were not allowed to accept any gift worth more than $25. I recall once having a question and asking our project manager about it. A contact from a charitable organization wanted to give us a cooler, which was definitely worth more than $25. “If you have to ask the question,” our Project Manager said. “Then you already know the answer.” Outstanding advice when it comes to ethics. Needless to say, I politely turned down the cooler.

The study and practice of ethics is ingrained in the Public Relations Society of America’s accreditation process. I can still recite them: “Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty and Fairness.”

In short, Advocacy is advocating and providing a voice for those we represent.

Honesty is telling the truth and advising your client to do likewise when communicating with the public. Expertise is honing our skillset through a continuous learning process. (The Public Relations Society of America offers an array of ongoing continuous education training opportunities.)

We maintain Independence by providing objective counsel to our clients. A PR pro exercises Loyalty and faithfulness to her client while serving the public interest.

And finally, we use Fairness with clients, stakeholders, the media, and others as we respect the opinions of others and their right to free expression.

I followed these guidelines throughout the $400-million, seven-year Boone Dam project.

To learn more about ethics and other key public relations and community relations principles used on a major infrastructure project please look for my book on Amazon!


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