Making PR Ethical?

The idea behind ‘values driven public relations’ is that the organizations ensure their actions match their words because the relationships between an organization and the publics that can affect its success.  Many organizations have incorporated a dynamic version of the four-phase process of research, planning, communication, and evaluation into the framework defined by an organizations value.

Ethics are values in action.  Being ethical means identifying values and acting on those identified values.  The Member Code of Ethics 2000 is followed by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and is based on values of advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty, and fairness.  The PRSA ethics code specifies six “Core Principles,” including the “free flow of information” and “safeguarding confidences”.  The ‘free flow of information’ is essential in serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision making in a democratic society. A member shall “preserve the integrity of the process of communication”, be honest and accurate in all communications, act promptly to correct flawed communications in which the practitioner is responsible.   ‘Safeguarding confidences’ has to do with the expectation that the information given to the practitioner by the client is kept confidential and private.

Societal codes and the difference between professional codes and organizational codes is that organizational codes are written, read, and followed while professional codes don’t really adhere to any written codes. Societal Codes are codes that are based around a religious foundation that are influenced by the Judeo-Christian culture and the ‘code’ impacts millions of people throughout the world.  Most of the people I know live their lives based on the premise that the Ten Commandments are the moral foundation that guide us in our everyday life.

Corporate social responsibility, according to the “International Business Leaders Forum,” is being the positive force of change in people’s lives striving for the protection of human rights, labor, and security.  They strive to promote health, education, and leadership development while assisting in human disaster relief, the environment while upholding business standards that protect the corporate authority. The more trustworthy a company is the more likely they are to have clients return for their business.  People around the world expect organizations to be consistent and to be good citizens who promote and give to the social well-being of the community.  Behavior trickles down and if a company has a rotten CEO you can almost bet the organization is rotten all the way down to the core.

Advocacy= free flowing information

Honesty= Discloses of information

Expertise= competition

Independence= safeguard confidences

Loyalty=conflicts of interest

Fairness=enhancing the profession

If you are loyal to your clients and have expert knowledge in whatever it is your company is advocating and clients feel safe knowing that their interests are guarded then you’re more likely to have a successful public relations account.  One must keep themselves in check making certain there isn’t a conflict of interest (meaning you aren’t pitting one company against another) and that you assert fairness and the free-flow of information.  Doing these simple things can help your public relations business become one that is considered an ‘ethical’ in the eyes of the public.


About Ajai Dittmar

There is nothing 'radical' about wanting to save your historical neighborhood! There is nothing 'negative' for wanting an 'outside investigation' done a public service that has had a lot of embarrassing news, especially when they don't do their jobs! There is nothing 'odd' about wanting politicians to uphold the Constitution they swear to uphold when they are sworn into office! Follow @sibzianna View all posts by Ajai Dittmar

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