With the members of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), including HMA’s Scott Hanson, gathered in Singapore for the 2022 PRGN Asia Summit, we are sharing some Pearls of Wisdom from Chairman Boh Tiong Yap of Mileage Communications, the PRGN member agency located in Singapore.
In this blog post, the communications veteran with 45 years of experience in journalism, advertising, public relations, crisis management and media training discusses the importance of integrity.
One of three tenets upon which Mileage was built, and which guides interaction with clients, partners, staff, vendors, the media and other stakeholders, is observing integrity.
Integrity refers to being honest, reliable, and trustworthy. It is about seeking to always do the right thing, standing up for what is right, and addressing conflict respectfully.
Over our 30-year history, we have faced our share of moral quandaries and risen to the challenge each time. There was one time when a staff member placed an advertisement on behalf of an important client on the wrong date. The client refused to pay for the advertisement. We promptly took out another advertisement on the correct date at no extra cost to the client.
On another occasion, a major client poached one of our junior staff and claimed in their defense that she had applied for the post. In our retainer contract with the client, there was a penalty clause which prohibited both parties from recruiting each other’s employees. We opted to enforce the penalty at the expense of losing the client, and collected a fee (equal to one year’s worth of salary of the employee in question) that was one-fifth of the annual value of the retainer. It did not make financial sense but we felt that we had to stand up for our principles, and set an example for our staff and other clients.
Any unethical behavior can have disastrous consequences on a company’s reputation. Many marketing gurus have highlighted that reputation once lost will take years to recover, if it is at all. On the flip side, ethical behavior can attract and retain customers, engender employee loyalty and foster collaboration with like-minded companies.
It therefore pays to observe integrity always.