Best Ethics Advice of 2018

Today is New Year’s Eve. I realize many people are taking the day off of leaving early to spend time with family and friends. While Ethical Voices launched in Q4 2018, it has already reached tens of thousands of professionals and the response has been overwhelming.

So on this day as we look forward and look back, I wanted to briefly share some of the highlights of Ethical Voices 2018 – The best ethics advice and most quotable quotes from those communications and PR professionals I interviewed.

And of you like these, wait to you see what I have in store for 2019.

The Best Ethics Advice

Paula Pedene –  Always tell the truth. The beauty of the truth is you never have to remember where you told what, because it’s consistent. When you tell a lie, you have to remember what lie it was, when you told it, who you told it to, and you have to continue to line it up.

Tony D’Angelo– If you’re okay with your activities being exposed, you’re doing the right thing.

Gini Dietrich – Remember who you are and what you stand for.

Bryan Scanlon – There are just some things that you cannot control. And PR people love to control things. But there are just some things that you can’t control, and you have to let go. Because if you take all of that home with you, or you carry it with you, it just, it becomes a weight that is unbearable. You’re going to miss things, there are going to be mistakes, and for me, the true character of anyone is what happens in those moments. How do you get past the mistake? How do you re-earn trust, if that’s what you have to do? What did you learn from that?

Judy Wicks – If you don’t know what to do, do the right thing.

Martin Waxman – When you’re faced with an ethical dilemma, hit the pause button.

Mickey Nall – Take a moment, and if feels bad, it may be, it probably is bad.

Other Notable quotes

  • Inclusion – The key, to me of inclusion, is it’s one thing to invite everyone to the party, we’d invited everyone to the party, look at the party, it’s so optically perfect now. But you know what, until somebody walks across that room and invites that person to dance at the party it’s not inclusive. – Mickey Nall
  • Empathy – I think one of the worst things we do is we think of media as media and not as people. – Martin Waxman
  • Here I stand – You have to work for the greater good.- Paula Pedene
  • Don’t compromise – “We could not work for you.” And say I am willing to walk away, because this is a line I’m not going to cross. For me, looking back, it seems like a “No duh” moment. Of course, you would do that. But, again, I think all ethical challenges in hindsight look like easier decisions than they are in the moment. – Bryan Scanlon
  • The Importance of Why – A major portion of working through wrenching change is to answer the “why” questions and not just the what. Too many times, companies make these sorts of announcements simply saying what is happening- Tony D’Angelo
  • Transparency – You can create content that is advocating for your company or de-positioning the competitors, but you’ve got to be honest about where it’s coming from. – Gini Dietrich
  • Values – Make sure your communications initiatives align to your core values. – Judy Wicks
  • Ethics and Silicon Valley – Any time that there’s money involved, ethics gets involved. You found a dollar on the street. Pick it up. What do you do with it? Right? And that’s a very basic ethical debate that is exacerbated when we are dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars. This creates ethical pressure.
  • Be your own guardian – If you sense that you’re working for people who are dishonest and making decisions behind closed doors that could lead to lawsuits, if you can, get out of there. – Judy Wicks
  • Build a strong foundation – I believe wholeheartedly that your foundation has to be a code of ethics. It’s really important to know what you stand for and know what your organization stands for. – Tony D’Angelo
  • The future is bright – This is wonderful renaissance for the public relations professional, because our departments should be growing. Our department should have increased budgets. If everyone’s a citizen journalist, if everyone’s polarizing around politics, if everyone is just angry all the time, we’re going to have issues. And the PR department, the PR agency, the communications contractor is going to have solve it. – Mickey Nall

Thank you for reading. I look forward to continuing the journey in 2019.

Mark McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA
Follow Me
Mark W. McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the general manager of C+C's Boston office. C+C is a communications agency all about the good and purpose-driven brands. He has more than 20 years of tech and fintech agency experience, served as the 2016 National Chair of PRSA, drove the creation of the PRSA Ethics App and is the host of


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *