Article by Rebecca Golub | Have you ever thought about how “fundamental values are universal?” Well Emmanuel Tchividjian has. As the ethics officer of Ruder Finn, it is his job to advise others on how to apply ethical values to all forms of communication.
On Wednesday, September 23, Tchividjian visited Marist College for PRSA/PRSSA’s Ethics Month to speak with public relations students about ethical communications practices, specifically when it comes to online discussions.
Tchividjian said that the values he lives by are “honesty, respect, integrity, fairness, truth and loyalty.” He also advised students to think before acting, particularly during a public relations crisis, when one can make a mistake in a moment of stress or anxiety. He said that it’s important for future professionals to learn to take a few moments to regroup, because once they make a statement online, it’s documented forever.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Tchividjian after his presentation to discuss his involvement with PRSSA, as well as gain some insights about ethical communication practices.
Rebecca Golub (RG): “Can you tell me how you got involved with PRSSA?”
Emmanuel Tchividjian (ET): “I became involved in PRSSA by judging The Bateman Competition for 10 years. I continued by serving as a professional adviser for St. John’s University and by being involved in ethics and resume writing for the PRSSA National Conference.”
RG: “What does your job entail as the leader of the ethics consulting practice at Ruder Finn?”
ET: “I make myself available for people to come to talk to me. I write blog posts, and I travel around the country speaking about ethics.”
RG: “What makes an ethical communication professional from your point-of-view?”
ET: “Someone who doesn’t act too quickly on decisions.”
RG: “You mentioned that ethics officers have to deal with conflicts between values. Do public relations professionals and clients’ values have to match in order for them to work together?
ET: “Be modest in your own attitude towards clients’ values, because there is no such thing as a perfect match in values.”
RG: During your presentation you said, “Fundamental values are universal.” You also said that the “means change. Tools change.” What did you mean by the “means change. Tools change?”
ET: “I mean to say that throughout time, even as the means by which communications applications change, the principles of ethics stay the same.”