DENVER, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A "few rotten apples" are responsible for
the ethical crisis facing corporate America, but the public believes the
problem is more widespread and wants executives punished for their ethical
lapses, the head of the world's largest organization for public relations
practitioners said today in Denver.
Reed Bolton Byrum, APR, president of the Public Relations Society of
America (PRSA) urged the nation's CEOs to speak out on the issue of corporate
ethics and said, "It will take real leaders to turn this situation around."
"If CEOs and CFOs are fearful of where candor might lead their companies,
consider where lack of candor has led the economy and stock exchanges," Byrum
added at a meeting of PRSA's Colorado chapter.
A recent credibility survey by PRSA and Equation Research shows "most
Americans perceive executives as weak and lacking in ethics" and 85 percent
believe punishing them for ethical lapses is the answer to the problem, Byrum
A recent Gallup Poll shows Americans rate "the honesty and ethics of
business executives just above that of telemarketers and just below those of
congressmen and building contractors," he said. "Another survey says 54
percent of professional investors say recent scandals are not just the work of
a few 'bad apples,' but represent the broader failure of corporate
"All of these negative ratings arise out of 23 indictments of corporate
executives," Byrum said. "But, damningly, they also arise out of the silence
of executives and institutions, voices that have remarkably failed to refute
"I challenge all of us (PR professionals) to get CEOs of American
institutions to speak out," he added. "This could, in fact, be the quickest
route to re-establishing a positive perception of institutional ethics."
Byrum, who is serving a one-year term as PRSA president, was one of the
first PR professionals to incorporate public relations strategies on the
Internet. He serves as public relations counsel to a number of high-tech
With nearly 20,000 members in 116 chapters nationwide, PRSA is the world's
largest organization for public relations practitioners. PRSA members are on
the public relations staffs of virtually every major corporation in America.