Davis Young and a talk about values

Some of you who read this blog may know Davis Young. Or know of him. Davis is the former head of Edward Howard & Company, a leading public relations firm in Cleveland and nationally. Davis is also a longtime advocate for ethical public relations and management.

I’ve known Davis since my Goodrich days. And I hired Edward Howard to assist in various projects through the years — primarily involving situations that would best be described as crisis management. I had the opportunity to visit with Davis yesterday at the Akron Chapter Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) luncheon in Canton.

Davis talked about values — and about building your company’s good name. At a time when this nation desperately needs public- and private-sector leaders who act ethically — and with a sense of values — it’s too bad that his remarks were limited to only the 40 or so public relations professionals and students attending the luncheon.

So let me share some of his comments with you. They are important. They are timely. And they are not limited to just the practice of public relations. Far from it.

Davis Young — and a host of others, including me in some small way — are talking about what we need to do to restore trust in government, in business and throughout our nation. If we fail at that — the amount of money we keep throwing at Wall Street, large insurance companies and the soon-to-be-bankrupt automakers won’t matter one bit.

Here goes.

Davis Young talking about the importance of communication, values and ethics:

“Like communication, values and ethics also permeate every corner of an organization. And, just as communication is a cornerstone of business success, communication is also a cornerstone of creating the right kind of culture…..one that goes beyond minimal legal standards to encourage integrity.”

Three key points to take from the presentation:

  • “Good communication and relationship-building are essential to success. You can be a real player if you are perceived to add value to that mix.”
  • “Values and ethics set the standard for success and you should be part of those issues from A-to-Z.”
  • “Nothing good happens unless the CEO is a believer. If you find yourself in a situation where this isn’t the case, go find another job because your CEO isn’t going to change.”

And about values and ethics management:

“Understand that it’s all about the T-word — trust and that trust is bankable. Share the best and worst practices of others with your management team. Hold yourself accountable. Once that is in-place, hold others accountable.”

I’ve written many times here and in other venues that public relations is all about trust, confidence and credibility. It’s really not about blogs, social media, news releases, webinars, face-to-face meetings, etc. Those are tactics. And I’ve mentioned many times how fortunate I was through a nearly 30-year career at BFGoodrich to work with a for a management team led by John Ong who were believers in ethical conduct and in honest, timely and accurate communications.

I’ve also mentioned that my views on management — I never considered myself just the “PR guy” — were shaped by people with integrity. Henry Eaton being one. Dave Meeker, also at the meeting yesterday, another. And I need to always include on that list Davis Young.

As I mentioned on this blog yesterday, if Barack Obama as president can do only one thing I hope he is able to restore trust. And for communications professionals in government, business, education, health care and elsewhere this is another opportunity for us. If we really believe in ethical communications and ethical decision-making as a way to restore trust, then we should be demonstrating this every day in our actions and in our advocacy for what we know is right inside our organizations and out.

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2 responses to “Davis Young and a talk about values

  1. Great post Rob. Reading those quotes from Davis sends my memory to the fall of 2007 when I sat in his class ‘Values and Ethics Management.’ He was one of the people who made me believe that I’ve not chosen the wrong career. It was a pleasure being in his class. Kudos to him.

  2. Josephine, Hi. I’ve known Davis for 2o years or more. He has never shifted from his advocacy of ethics and values in public relations. Kent State’s journalism program places a high priority on ethics. That’s important these days — and one of the many reasons why it has one of the best programs in the country. When you combine that with the individual integrity of most students, well, that’s hard to beat.

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