HILEAF at its best

by Emily Diab

Throughout my academic career, I’ve been constantly harassed by the phantoms of my own mind in creating the most creative, and sometimes downright stupid acronyms, in hopes that my college mind could cram just one more list for just one more exam. We’ve all done it. And it works! But we usually forget about the silly series of letters a few weeks later, and the ever-so-important test question never comes up again.

As the end of my long road of intense study habits draws near, I still remember one of those creative (this time NOT downright stupid) acronyms. With the help of my just as study-crazed classmates and our teaching-crazed professors, we have somehow managed to engrave the six letters of this special acronym in our minds.

HILEAF.
Honesty, Independence, Loyalty, Expertise, Advocacy, Fairness.

If you have ever taken a public relations course, dated a public relations nerd like me or have been surrounded by a building full of communications freaks like my classmates, you’ve heard of HILEAF. And if there was ever an acronym that I can’t forget if I tried, HILEAF is it – and a good one to hang on to at that.

Because HILEAF has stuck with me as a special charm to my world of accessories, I want to share a little dry, tough-love advice on how to understand HILEAF, why to follow it and how it will get you where you want to go.

Honesty

We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public. –PRSA Code of Ethics

We all learned this one early in life, when you stole the cookie from the cookie jar, lied to mommy about it and then pouted in the corner for time-out, all with chocolate spread around your mouth. You lied. You got caught. Don’t do it again. Real world punishment is much worse than staring at a blank wall.

Independence

We provide objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions. –PRSA Code of Ethics

They drill it into our brains on every syllabus I’ve seen since I’ve entered the University system. We read it, sometimes ignore it and hope to get through the class without the need to copy and paste. I wish luck to the people who still think that it’s possible to get through life depending on other’s work. Don’t copy. Don’t paste. Don’t depend on others to carry you through. Do your own work. What happens when you show up for work on the first day in the real world and the keyboard is missing Control+C?

Loyalty

We are faithful to those we represent, while honoring our obligation to serve the public interest. –PRSA Code of Ethics

Just like man’s best friend, we have learned to stay true to the ones we love. Or in the work world, we will stay true to the ones who pay us. Represent wisely. Serve the public. Be an honorable delegate. It will pay off, literally and figuratively. Just as we need cash to stay alive, we need a good friend or coworker to have our backs. But you must have their backs first.

Expertise

We acquire and responsibly use specialized knowledge and experience. We advance the profession through continued professional development, research and education. We build mutual understanding, credibility and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences. –PRSA Code of Ethics

It’s a scary world out there. People are better than you and are fighting for the same life you dream for. Achieve excellence every single day. Stand out among the best. Do everything you can to be specialized in every subject you can handle. Maintain expert status and the scary world of professionalism will be a little bit lighter.

Advocacy

We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts, and viewpoints to aid informed public debate. –PRSA Code of Ethics

A business thrives on support from its employees and partners. Intelligence and common sense make a great pair when representing your company. Luckily, your intelligence probably got you the job, but now its time to turn on the common sense. Represent wisely. Don’t be stupid. Think about what you’re doing at all times, and keep your job fresh on your mind.

Fairness

We deal fairly with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, the media, and the general public. We respect all opinions and support the right of free expression. –PRSA Code of Ethics

Life’s not fair. But we should be doing everything we can to make it that way. Pay it forward and do what youshould, not just what you have to. Remember the Golden Rule and apply it at all times, even if you don’t feel like it. Suck it up and make your environment the best place it can be. After all, you’re working there too.

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3 Comments

Filed under Ethics, The Industry

3 responses to “HILEAF at its best

  1. Katie Brazeal

    Emily, I really appreciate your honest tone and approach to this blog post. Acronyms are one of my favorite study tools, but they no doubt store knowledge in the short term compartment of my brain. However, some of them (such as HILEAF for us aspiring PR professionals) deserve the extra bit of attention that will help save it in long term memory.

    The acronym seems so simple, but I know that it might not seem quite so simple when the real world hits. That is the difficulty with acronyms; it is one thing to regurgitate it on a test, but it is entirely different when you are required to incorporate it into your everyday life. That will be the true test!

  2. Nick Horton

    HILEAF seems to go beyond the PR world and should be practiced in everyday life. I like how you used real world examples for each of the six components of it. People today should be applying these traits in all industries in our country. Our government seems to have done the worst at this in recent years, giving private companies bailouts because they failed to address the issues themselves in a timely manner. It has also been seen in several companies such as Enron, people have lost everything because a company took the easy way out and turned their back on the investors and customers. In addition to this the several people who run ponzi schemes violate every code of ethics you learn from a child or in the classroom. The greed that plagues America today all starts with the topics addressed by HILEAF, and the morality that seems to be lost among today’s businesses. IF professionals would have adhered to these issues covered by HILEAF this current economic situation probably would not have gotten as bad as it currently is today.

    Nick Horton

  3. Pingback: APR: New Meaning in a New Economy | Platform Magazine

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