About the Universal Accreditation Board's Greater Emphasis on Ethics

September 2021
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At the turn of the millennium when I had the honor of serving as president of the Southern Public Relations Federation, the board voted to align our own Code of Ethics with that of PRSA, a fellow Participating Organization on the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB). 

This move strengthened the collective voice of PR practitioners who were unified and serious about the idea of encouraging ethical practices in our profession. It also served to improve APR candidates’ understanding of this important KSA (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities tested on the APR Examination) as they entered their journey to earn Accreditation. 

The launch of PRSA’s Voices4Everyone platform this spring reminded me of that earlier effort to unify voices to advance a higher cause. Again, I find myself as chair of a board where ethics is taking a prominent position in important discussions and decisions. 

Last year, the UAB began requiring APR/Ms to earn one CEU in Ethics of the 15 total CEUs required to Renew the credential. This decision was part of the move away from a points system for Renewal (previously called Maintenance) to the more nationally recognized CEU system.

An understanding of ethics

Why did the UAB do this? When a group of PR colleagues raised concerns that APR candidates should demonstrate an understanding of ethics in a practical sense beyond an academic understanding, the UAB began discussing how to further emphasize ethical concepts.

The emphasis had to apply to all UAB Participating Organizations and remain within the scope of the board’s charter of granting Accreditation and maintaining the credentialing program. 

Accredited practitioners have demonstrated a high level of mastery of the KSAs associated with the practice of public relations, including a strong emphasis of ethical standards throughout the process.  

After reviewing years of APR data, the UAB found most practitioners exceeded the number of points needed to maintain their APR. We anticipate most APRs will have no problem meeting this specific Renewal requirement. The new ethics CEU requirement encourages Accredited practitioners to maintain that professional code of conduct that APRs espouse and other industries value.

With the current temperature of our nation and the important issues being addressed by Voices4Everyone, it’s worth including that move by UAB in the conversation as we hope to continue raising the bar for PR practitioners.

As Voices4Everyone supports a national conversation building mutual understanding, trust, and civic engagement through more inclusive civil discourse, the UAB will continue to serve as one of the harbingers for ethical practices within the practice of public relations.

To learn more about Accreditation in Public Relations or to find resources for the required Ethics CEU, please visit www.praccreditation.org.

Ethics Month 2021 Highlights

Each September, PRSA recognizes Ethics Month to bring increased attention to the core foundation of the communications profession. This year’s theme is “Leading With Ethics.” 

The programming this month includes two free webinars:

• “Ethical Communications in the Military: Eliminating the Say/Do Gap on the Battlefield and Beyond” on Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. 

• “Stay Humble and Keep Your Head Down: A Conversation on Ethics Like None Other With Anthony Slonim” on Sept. 21 at 3 p.m. 

Other activities include blog posts on PRsay and the new Ethics Quiz. You can also follow along with the conversation on Twitter at #EthicsMonth. Please visit the PRSA website for updates on Ethics Month programming.


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