By: Melanie Rankin
Since before I can remember, my dad always told me two things: all you have is your word, and if you have five true, thick-n-thin friends in this world, then you’re lucky. As a teenager, I didn’t think too much of it because, let’s face it, when you’re a teenager you’ve clearly got it all figured out (I hope you sense my sarcasm). But as I’ve grown, I’ve figured out that he’s exactly right (go figure). Not only do these two morsels of wisdom apply to your personal life, they should filter into your work life.
Rather than call honesty and integrity ‘our word,’ in PR we call these values our ethics. Let me address the first valuable piece of advice from my dad: all you have is your word. It addresses how others view you and your trustworthiness. There’s a lot to be said for being where you say you’re going to be and letting people know what’s going on if there is an issue. If you say you can do something and you find you’ve double booked yourself, the last thing you should do is not say anything. If I’ve learned anything in PR it’s that constant communication is the only way to be successful.
The second piece of advice that my dad gave me has a lot to do with trusting others. I’ve learned in PR, and in life, that if it looks like a lie, seems like a lie, acts like a lie… it’s probably a lie. Who you surround yourself with can make or break your career. Remember, if you hold others to a standard of honesty and excellence, you must also keep yourself accountable and expect others to help you do so. If someone violates your trust, forgive and let go for friendship’s sake, but don’t necessarily forget. Don’t ever let yourself be fooled twice. People mess up, believe me, I’m the first to stand on the chopping block. To harm yourself by continually letting others intentionally cause you harm is a rookie mistake.
There aren’t too many things that are as important and widespread over any industry as ethics. Anywhere you work, there is some sort of code of ethics that should be followed. As PR practitioners, we have the PRSA Code of Ethics. Advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness are the attributes that we seek to uphold in PR. These values should be upheld throughout your life, regardless of your vocation.