Ethics Workshop (Fall ’17)

Tuesday, September 27, 2017 we had a PR Ethics Workshop. What Did We Learn?

In today’s world, there is so much controversy, negativity, and backlash. With that being said, Public Relations is essential for organizations to stay afloat from all of this. But how do PR people remain ethical within such a controversial and quick-tongued society?

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We follow H.E.F.A.I.L. so we (and our organizations/clients) don’t fail. Thank you, Elijah Svoboda for that acronym.

H.E.F.A.I.L. represents the 6 pillars of PR ethics.







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Elijah Svoboda leading discussion

We explored each pillar and what this means in the world of Public Relations.

Lessons in honesty – as cliché as it sounds, honesty is still the best policy. When you are developing relationships with companies and trying to grow and deepen these relationships, honesty is important. Trust is valued. Lying will get you nowhere; it will only put you multiple steps behind. And no one wants to fight an uphill battle.

Lessons in expertise – “Who would you rather officiate your wedding? Sean Spicer (Trump’s former Press Secretary) or Barack Obama?” No on in the room chose Sean Spicer. Why? His hostile demeanor and his less than confident ‘factual’ content. But why wasn’t Obama’s Press Secretary an option? Because he isn’t as publicly known. He didn’t make a fool of himself. He didn’t cause controversy. He knew what he was doing. Many people don’t know who his Press Secretary even was—this is a good thing; people mainly hear about the bad, the ugly, the controversy. It’s important to know what your job is and how to do it well; how to use your words correctly and positively.


Lessons in fairness – It is our responsibility as influencers, in whatever field, to be fair in our assessment of the conversations that we are apart of. We have an obligation to the public to be fair in our assessment of what we are talking about; this means sharing both sides of the story.

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Lessons in advocacy – Another responsibility and obligation we have, as influencers, is to be the advocate for someone or something [client, organization, company, etc]. We are defenders. We are protectors; and it is our responsibility to support and uphold the companies and clients we represent.

Lessons in independence – It is our obligation to remain independent from other corporate or social structures.

Lessons in loyalty – We are relationship builders. This means we have a dedication to the people we work for and with. This includes but is not limited to: clients, journalists, marketing professionals, digital media specialists, photographers, etc. It doesn’t matter which bridge we burn, but if we do burn bridges, we are not doing our best work—we need to keep the relationships we have strong and positive. Maintaining relationships is key.

Written by: Christina Cusumano, Director of PR

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