Four paths to patriotic public relations

By Jenny Smith, Acuity PR

Our nation’s birthday is a great time to reflect on our founding principles. In today’s climate of alternative facts, fake news and ADHD reporting, it’s important to ask ourselves: How can we practice truly patriotic public relations?

1. Practice the Four-Way Test

When business executive and Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor set out to save the Club Aluminum Products distribution company from bankruptcy, he created policies to reflect his faith and his standards.

Taylor wrote The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do. Today, The Four-Way Test is used by Rotary International as a moral code for their personal and business relationships.

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

2. Re-read the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)’s Code of Ethics.

I know. Most of us have scanned it. But how many refer to it when creating PR plans? Or when asked to engage in a PR tactic that feels wrong in our gut from the get-go?

3. Align with ethically-minded peers.

University of South Carolina Professor Shannon Bowen, who focuses on PR education, ethics and the C-Suite, contributed this expert point-of-view to PRWeek last June.

PRConsultants Group members, a collaborative of 45+ seasoned independent PR practitioners across the country, not only advise clients on ways to develop, manage and sustain their positive reputations, they’re ready to jump in to help clients successfully manage crises.

4. Do good. For free.

Our values of community are reinforced by service to others. Doesn’t matter what it is – Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Humane Society, the local homeless shelter or the local arts council. When you volunteer to support the PR and marketing efforts of a not-for-profit organization or cause, you’re not only reinforcing goodwill for your organization. You’re part of a larger purpose. And what could be more patriotic than that?


Drawing upon her 25+ years’ PR and marketing communications experience in health care, senior living and home care, education, manufacturing and not-for-profit sectors, Jenny Smith founded Acuity Public Relations LLC in 2012. PR strategy, content development and marketing, media relations and event promotion are what she loves best. When she’s not serving clients, Jenny can be found digging in her garden, in a spinning or weights class, devouring a book or planning travel. Passionate about helping young women explore their STEM career options, she promotes TechSavvy, a yearly conference for girls ages 6-9.

One Comment

Tony Rodriguez

Thank you Jenny for quoting the 4 Way Test of Rotary. As a Rotarian I live by those standards everyday in my business and my daily life. They help you become a better person.


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