Use these tips from PR to guide you
September is Ethics Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK for your company to misbehave for the other 11 months of the year. This recognition serves to remind us of the evergreen importance of ethics.
The Public Relations Society of America details a stringent code of ethics to address challenges and serve as a guide for ethical actions within the industry. With help from PR, you can learn about the importance of ethics for your own business and improve your chances of getting it right.
Why you should care
Appearing in a news story can give you a huge boost in visibility, but these days, the news seems to be full of examples of companies that did not put enough emphasis on ethics and paid the price with a loss of customers, profitability and a good reputation. Companies like McDonald’s, Nestle, Walmart and Citibank seem to get more news coverage for their bad decisions than for any good deeds they may do.
Today’s consumers expect more for their dollars, and how a company behaves can have a significant influence on purchasing decisions. You can see evidence of this in current business practices, such as:
Cosmetics companies touting their practice of never testing on animals
The apparel industry under fire over fair labor compliance
Companies now producing a large variety of products (like seafood and soaps) using sustainable technologies and practices
What your company can learn from the Code of Ethics
The PRSA’s Code of Ethics defines rules regarding the disclosure of information, such as informing clients about paid placements and any conflicts of interest. Your company should also strive to be transparent in its business practices. Instating policies which dictate your organization’s behavior in various circumstances will increase the chances that, should the situation occur, you will make the right and ethical decision.
A good PR firm can show you the best ways to publicize your standards and values in order to build public support for your company. When customers trust your company and product, they are more likely to recommend you to others.
The Code of Ethics influences the free flow of information with rules that ensure the integrity of written and visual content. It is vital for your organization to follow these guidelines. For example, if you pay a celebrity spokesperson to enthusiastically endorse your product or if you send a blogger free samples in the hopes that she will write a favorable article, you must clearly disclose this information. Failure to do so would be dishonest and unethical.
Your PR agency can utilize ethical methods to increase your visibility and generate news coverage. If consumers learn that you have been deceitful, they will quickly take their business to your competition instead.
The Code of Ethics directs PR professionals to enhance the field by working to build respect and credibility. This advice can also serve your company well. For instance, instead of only broadcasting information about your wonderful products and services, you can use your various platforms to educate the public about your industry and interesting trends that affect it.
Thought-leadership also demonstrates how you add value to your customers’ lives. It can be especially crucial in the decision-making stage of the sales funnel. When they know they can come to you for information, they will be more likely to return for the actual purchase.
Rely on Axia to help you steer clear of trouble
At Axia Public Relations, we strictly adhere to the PRSA Code of Ethics. We know how to get your information out quickly and boost your visibility without sacrificing ethics or accuracy. Contact us today or register for our 60-Second Impact for more helpful tools and tips to grow your business.
What kinds of tactics do you employ to guide your company through the ethical minefield? Let us know in the comments section.
Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter