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Honesty is the best and only policy… ALWAYS!

Honesty is the best and only policy… ALWAYS!

By Jason Mollica

“All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.” – John Quincy Adams

In January I contributed to Marketwired’s infographic “What’s on Your 2015 PR Wish List?” There were three points I wanted to make sure all PR pros understood, one of which was to Be Honest. It wasn’t a mistake to list honesty as the first tip because it should be the first principle that we follow. Being honest and ethical are pillars in my life as a consultant. If I’m not considered as someone who embodies both of those traits, I’ve already lost.

In public relations, it’s absolutely paramount to have the trust of clients, colleagues, and the media. If you or the message you are trying spread isn’t trusted, the chances of being successful are very slim.

So, why do being honest and ethical seem to be so hard to uphold? It’s simple. If there are others who have gotten away with it, why couldn’t I? Do a Google search of “PR and Spin” and you will see millions of results expounding how PR pros are spinsters or doctors of spin. We are already labeled because of the dishonesty that has preceded us.

Now, before the comments come in that I’m being entirely too negative, let me say that I know that a good majority of those in my profession are ethical and honest. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has a Code of Ethics that we, as members, must uphold. In the Member Statement of Professional Values, it states for honesty:

We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.”

Simple enough, right? Well, unfortunately, it’s always the negative that gets the news. Heck, we can’t even trust network news anchors to be honest and ethical. If you find yourself in a place where you think you can’t be honest, ask these three questions.

  1. Am I ready to ruin my reputation? Once the word gets out that you’ve lied or spun the truth, the chances of you getting back to a place of trust are very slim. There will always be questions about you, which will hurt your business and your brand.
  2. Is it worth it? This should be an easy question to answer, but sadly, it isn’t always. Think about it. Is lying once worth putting a client or your agency/firm/consultancy at risk? It’s not. Ever.
  3. Do I want to continue what I do? Well, do you? Being honest and ethical now will go a long way to building up your personal brand’s trust. Face it, you are probably seen as a person people can depend on for advice and guidance. The minute you are proven to be unethical and dishonest, the chances of you being in the PR industry for the long term are very, very slim.

At the end of the day, we are better served to set forth on an ethical and honest path. PR stands for public relations. Part of that relationship is built on trust. Don’t cause that relationship to crumble because you weren’t honest.

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