Do your actions reflect your words and our PRSA professional values?

Do your actions reflect your words and our PRSA professional values?

by Kathy Krafka Harkema, APR

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

We’ve likely all seen examples of public figures and others doing exactly that in the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember the Austin, Texas mayor who told everyone to stay home, while he filmed his Facebook plea to shelter in place from a sunny vacation spot in Cabo, Mexico? Or how about California Governor Gavin Newsom who clamped down on indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants during the pandemic or getting together with others outside your household, yet enjoyed a luxurious dinner indoors at the swanky French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley? And worse yet when news leaked about his outing, he claimed he dined outdoors, yet photos clearly showed him cozily eating and drinking indoors with lobbyists others and without the non-socially distanced party wearing face masks? And you may recall, he was the one telling Californians to keep their interactions with others outside their home to a minimum, to give up gatherings with family or friends, and to vigilantly wear face masks even between bites.

What’s the problem?

It’s a credibility problem when people say one thing yet do another. Especially if they’re trying to inspire, inform or influence others. And it’s an even greater credibility problem when they’re not truthful. The more times someone says something, yet does another, and then lies about it, the less anyone will trust or respect him or her…or the message he or she is trying to convey.

When your personal actions clearly communicate the opposite of what you say, people quickly tune out and turn against whatever it is you are trying to convey.

These real-life examples demonstrate the importance of being honest and truthful to avoid deceiving others. Deceptive actions don’t win friends or positively influence people. They accomplish the opposite.

Saying one thing then doing another violates the public’s trust. That’s amplified if you are a public figure. Or a spokesperson. Or any other type of public relations professional. Saying one thing, then doing another is inconsistent with the principles we’re expected to uphold as public relations professionals and members of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA.)

Honesty is a core value for public relations professionals.

When people say one thing and then don’t follow their own mandates or advice, it quickly and sometimes permanently diminishes credibility and trust.

As you embark on 2021, make sure your actions reflect your words and the professional values you’ve agreed to uphold as a member of PRSA. Need a refresher? See the PRSA Code of Ethics. 

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