The Tampa Bay chapter of the Public Relations Society of America appointed its first ethics officer to help its members navigate ethical dilemmas in their professional lives.
The Tampa Bay chapter of the Public Relations Society of America recently appointed Kirk Hazlett as the group’s first ethics officer. The new role was established after encouragement from the national association.
“The national association has been encouraging the local chapters to establish an ethics officer position,” Hazlett said. “You pay to be a member of a professional organization. You expect or deserve to get certain kinds of services, and for us, ethical practices are a big deal.”
In this role, Hazlett will assist members who are experiencing ethical dilemmas in their professional lives and need help discerning what to do.
“We’re not a watchdog. We’re not sitting here, saying ‘Oh, golly. We caught you doing this,’” he said. “But we’re more of a reference.”
Hazlett, who served on PRSA’s Board of Directors and Board of Ethics and Professional Standards for a couple of years, said that ethics has always been one of the key missions of the organization and that the PRSA Code of Ethics is the industry standard.
“We are fortunate that, when he retired as a professor, Kirk chose the Tampa area as his new home,” said PRSA Tampa Bay 2018 President MaryMargaret Hull, APR, in a press release. “Ethical guidance is a critical issue for all public relations professionals, and I am pleased that we will now have the ability to formally offer assistance when needed.”
Hazlett plans on doing some social media outreach throughout the year to both remind members about this new resource and to offer some bite-sized ethics tips. He is also planning on writing several blog posts on ethics during PRSA’s ethics month in September.
Hazlett said that Tampa Bay PRSA wants to continually remind its members that they’ve got someone they can turn to if they want to.
“Our overriding goal is assuring our members that there is support for them if they run into an ethical issue,” Hazlett said. “It’s just letting them know, ‘You’ve got one more professional resource available to you as a member of a major organization.’ You’re getting value for your membership.”