February 10, 2012
The Honorable Dennis Richardson
House of Representatives
Oregon State Capitol
900 Court St. NE, H-373
Salem, OR 97301
Dear Rep. Richardson:
I write to you as the president of the Portland Metro Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. PRSA is the nation’s largest community of public relations and communications professionals. Our 21,000 members represent nearly every practice area and professional and academic setting in the public relations field. PRSA provides training, sets standards of excellence and upholds principles of ethics for the global public relations profession.
The mission of PRSA-Portland Metro Chapter, with more than 220 members, is to maintain the highest standards of service and ethical conduct by all members of the profession.
Oregonians understand that the state legislature is facing challenging budget decisions. However, it was deeply troubling to see one group of workers singled out – the public affairs professionals who support the Oregon agencies that provide vital services across the state.
PRSA’s Code of Ethics sets forth key principles that are essential to serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision making in a democratic society. Public affairs specialists are committed to advancing ethical communications practices and the free flow of accurate and truthful information.
They serve the public by providing information on services ranging from health care and disability support to employment and transportation. On any given day, they answer calls from people who did not know where else to turn for help. At the same time, they respond to questions from reporters from across the state on an endless range of subjects.
They also support partnerships with businesses, community organizations and charities – partnerships that enrich Oregon as a place to live and to work.
Public affairs professionals provide insights and expertise on how to communicate in an increasing complicated world. Today, it is no longer enough for an organization to issue news releases. Citizens seek – and expect – immediate information via Facebook, Twitter and other tools that are 24/7, 365 days a year.
Public affairs specialists provide guidance to help decision-makers determine the most effective ways to provide information to an increasingly diverse public. Just as important, they help their colleagues understand when a prospective decision could have unintended negative results, harming public confidence and trust.
Operating in the public interest, public affairs professionals:
We urge you and your colleagues to revisit this discussion and find a more balanced approach to addressing Oregon’s budget issues. Oregon’s public affairs specialists are hard-working, dedicated men and women. Many have devoted their lives to serving the people of Oregon.
They deserve to be singled out for their vital contributions—not targeted and dismissed.
Jenna Cooper-Gross, APR
Portland Metro Chapter
Public Relations Society of America
cc: The Honorable Peter Buckley
The Honorable Richard Devlin