Wednesday, January 23, 2008

PRSA to Wait for Legal Result Before Ethical Statement

I've been asked a lot about the Meijer/Seyferth issue and what PRSA is going to do about it. The short answer is, we'll see.

I heard yesterday that the WMPRSA board at a recent meeting decided to stay silent for now, even though some members of the board advocated stating a position of clarity about ethics on behalf of the profession, if not specifically against the two local companies involved.

Meanwhile, T. Michael Jackson, APR, Fellow PRSA, of Traverse City has shared with me that the national PRSA office has a wait and see attitude now as well. The organization's Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) has a new chair and has not met recently, but will discuss the Meijer/Seyferth case when they do meet on January 25. Beyond that, it appears that this national voice of our profession will wait to hear from the legal profession first. In other words, they will factor in the facts revealed by the Michigan State Police and Meijer's own investigator before commenting. Then, in the words of BEPS member Bob Frause, APR, Fellow PRSA: "When and if we do comment it will be an educational bulletin designed to teach and educate our members and the profession how to practice ethically within the environment of a professional situation such as the Meijer case."

For his part, Jackson has encouraged the BEPS to issue a statement to SST on the matter regardless of whether they determine the firm was ethical or not.

That is in keeping with the charge to the BEPS, in the words of PRSA itself: "As issues arise relating to the practice of public relations, BEPS is charged with providing guidance on such issues within the framework of the Code provisions." You can see ethics resources, including an archive of professional standards advisories issued by the BEPS, on the ethics portion of PRSA's Web site.

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