Stepping up our CPRS Professional Ethics Program

By Victor Vrsnik, MCM, APR, FCPRS, CPRS National President

You’ve heard it said before – “Ethics matter”. This is no feeble attempt at persuasion. It’s what our CPRS members keep telling us.

Over half of CPRS members who responded to the 2019 Member Survey report that belonging to the CPRS adds credibility due to the code of professional standards and that setting professional standards and regulating the profession was the number one role of professional associations in the future. This undergirds the findings from the Future of CPRS 2017 survey, where 88% agreed (56% strongly) with the following element of the proposed CPRS Strategic Framework:

CPRS Members are seen as ethical professionals who adhere to and uphold a code of standards

In an era of fake news and alternative facts, the CPRS must do more than talk about ethical public relations; we must be THE champion for the public relations industry in Canada. While having a code of professional standards and a commitment to ethical PR is important, we must speak out in support of public relations, call out unethical PR practice, and demonstrate leadership through a clear disciplinary policy that is fully implemented. We must understand the public perceptions of our industry and develop plans to promote ethical public relations across Canada.

So, we agree that ethics matter. The CPRS has a Code of Professional Standards that we consent to through membership, as well as a Judicial and Ethics Committee. CPRS-Vancouver publishes the regular ethics blog – No Good Deed – edited by Deborah Folka APR, FCPRS, LM. But the CPRS has still an expanding role to play in elevating the profession and advocating for the ethical practice of public relations. Where do we go from here?

Let’s start with increased dialogue around ethics, professional standards and individual experience. In August, I had the pleasure to host the UK based #PowerAndInfluence Twitter chat to discuss how a theory on ethics would help bridge PR to the professions.

It means advocating for ethical PR and communications management by creating an online platform for practitioners to publicly adhere to our Code of Professional Standards – to wear it like a badge of honour. It means educating members with discussion guides, training and providing practical tools to help practitioners grapple with tough ethical dilemmas and decisions. And, it means taking a stand against breaches of professional ethics.

The driving force behind our professional ethics development program is Kim Blanchette, APR, FCPRS, who is chairing a new National Task Force on Ethical Public Relations. Kim has recruited members across the country to support the work.

One of her first deliverables is a new interview series showcasing CPRS members and subject-matter experts asked to comment on PR trends, the value of CPRS membership, and how ethical PR shows up in their day-to-day work. You can listen to the first interview with Jean Valin, APR, FCPRS, LM who is actively involved with the Global Alliance and its ethics program. Click here.

In 2017, in the midst of a global discussion on ethical PR and ‘alternative facts’ the CPRS led the way with a white paper and a strategic framework that turned talk into committed action. In the coming months, we will fulfill that commitment by taking leadership on and stepping up our evidence based professional ethics program.

#CPRSProud #ElevatePR #EthicsMatter