February President’s Message

23650057601_7d4fbc9059_bHello, everyone! We are only a month into 2017 but it’s been a very busy time for not only our chapter, but also our profession.

As part of my 2017 initiatives, I installed an ethics officer. Ethics has always been a crucial element of all PRSA Richmond does. Establishing this position simply solidifies it as a key member of the board of directors.

The board voted former PRSA Richmond president Rachel Beanland, APR as the 2017 ethics officer. Rachel’s diverse professional experiences and familiarity being a liaison to PRSA National will provide a strong foundation as she serves as a resource for any PRSA Richmond members who may face a questionable professional situation. She will also highlight resources available from PRSA National, share important ethics-related updates and offer tips for making ethics part of what each of us do every day. If you need to reach out to Rachel, please do. She’s happy to chat. Contact her at rbeanland@visarts.org.

On that note, I want to direct your attention to two posts recently that relate to ethics—Jane Dvorak, Chair of PRSA for 2017, released a statement about alternative facts, and PRSA CEO Joe Truncale posted an article in January on the PRNews website addressing the issue of fake news.

As Joe and Jane say, our roles as communicators is to build and maintain trust with not only the media, but also our customers, clients and employees. Ethical professionals never spin, mislead or alter facts. One PR person spreading misinformation or incomplete information reflects poorly on all communications professionals.

The stories you tell for your organization or client should define your values and demonstrate your commitment. Trust and transparency are critical to building not only your business’ reputation, but also yours as an individual and a representative for all members of PR community. If you cannot authentically engage with stakeholders, don’t.

I highly encourage you to read Jane and Joe’s entire articles. And while you are on PRSA’s website, it’s a good time to review PRSA’s Code of Ethics. Hold yourself accountable and make sure you adhere to all elements of that code.

These are trying times to be in both the communications and journalism profession. I applaud my colleagues and the reporters who work hard to promote and report the truth.

As I said at January’s luncheon, when journalists have to spend time defending the stories they have already published by rechecking facts already previously verified, that’s time when they are not out looking for the next awesome topic to write about or cover, one that could be about something positive your organization or client is doing. I can’t image there are many PR pros out there who would be OK with giving up some valuable impressions because the media is hyper-focused on fake news and alternative facts.

Have a great month. I’ll see you in February.


Jennifer Guild, APR
PRSA Richmond President