By Zabrina Hvostal
PRSSA Kent members gathered Wednesday night to talk about ethical issues a professional may face during his or her career. Two professionals joined us and led the discussion: Kendra Davis and Tom Crilley.
Kendra Davis is a two-time Kent State University graduate and holds a B.S. and M.A. in journalism and mass communication specializing in public relations. As a media relations professional, Kendra has strategically managed proactive and reactive publicity garnering local and national publicity for consumer, B2B and nonprofit brands. Her media relations work on the Eighth Annual Avon Heritage Duck Tape Festival received a 2011 PRSA Cleveland Rocks Award. In addition to more than five years of media relations expertise, Kendra has agency, social media and content management experience.
Tom Crilley is the Director of Communications for software-development company Squirrels LLC in North Canton, Ohio. He manages the company’s PR and communications strategy, including media relations efforts, social media management and customer outreach. Tom began his career at the Akron, Ohio-based Smiley Hanchulak Marketing Communications, which was abruptly acquired just one month later by WhiteSpace Creative, an integrated marketing communications agency in Akron. He spent the next three years at WhiteSpace as the agency’s PR Coordinator where he developed client PR plans and wrote press releases, blog posts, eBlasts, social content and pretty much any other type of copy you can imagine. Tom graduated from the Kent State PR program in May 2012.
Many students were curious about difficult issues professionals faced in their work place.
Q: What is the most difficult ethical issue that you had to deal with in the work place?
A: “Well recently my boss asked me to help him put his voice out there about a community issue that has been big in Cleveland with the Tamir Rice case going on: racism. I had to look at this from two points, personally and professionally. Being an African American woman I had to think of a way to serve my boss, but still stay on the right side of the issue, which is hard when there is no right side.”
A: “ I was at Smiley Hanchulak for exactly one week before it was announced that our agency was being acquired by Whitespace Creative in downtown Akron. Our CEO was set to retire because he was ill. The original plan was the vice president was supposed to take over the agency when the CEO retired. But, at the last minute the CEO decided to sell to Whitespace and didn’t tell the vice president. So after dedicating his whole career to this agency, he was left with nothing and couldn’t even get into the building because the president changed the locks on the door. It affected all the employees, no one knew how safe their job was at that point.”
The second half of the meeting students broke up into groups to discuss ethical scenarios. Students were able to identify issues, determine internal/external factors, and apply key values. The discussion was open ended and allowed students to consider different perspectives.
Below are the links to the scenarios discussed at the meeting: