Monday, Feb. 13: Introduction to Public Relations Notes

Professionalism

  • CPRE recommends 5 content areas. Which is missing from your curriculum?

Ethics

  • Morals and beliefs — personal standards
  • Ethics — shared community standards
  • Trust and reputation — are the outcomes if you act ethically
  • Quotations:
    • “There is a pervading crisis of confidence and trust in the global corporate culture. Trust has been ruptured between many organizations and their constituencies. Yet trust is at the basis of every relationship. The loss of trust leads to the loss of reputation and, ultimately, to the loss of business.”
      –Ruder Finn
    • “Trust is something business can’t do without…It isn’t some fuzzy nice-to-have; it’s the lubricant without which the City and Wall Street are as frozen as a rusted motor. If there is debt or credit, there has to be trust.” –Simon Caulkin, The Guardian
  • Ethical behavior is the right thing to do. It’s also the foundation of long-term business success and profitability.
  • Code of Ethics:
  • Code of Athens from the International Public Relations Association
    https://www.ipra.org/static/media/uploads/pdfs/ipra_code_of_athens.pdf
  • PRSA Code of Ethics Principles
    • Honesty: Adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those you represent and in communicating with the public.  Maintain the integrity of relationships with the media, government officials, and the public. To ensure honesty, investigate the accuracy of information given to you. Reveal sponsors for causes/interests. Disclose financial interests.
    • Expertise: Advance your profession through your continued professional development, research, and education. Build mutual understanding, credibility and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audience.
    • Independence: Provide objective counsel to those you represent. Avoid real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest you will build the trust of clients, employers and the public.
    • Advocacy: Serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those you represent. Provide a voice for the organization through ideas, facts and viewpoints to aid informed public debate.
    • Fairness: Deal fairly with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, the media, and the general public. Respect all opinions and support the right of free expression. Build trust with the public by revealing all information needed for responsible decision making.
  • The Page Principles
    • Tell the truth.
    • Prove it with action.
    • Listen to the customer.
    • Manage for tomorrow.
    • Conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it.
    • Realize a company’s true character is expressed by its people.
    • Remain calm, patient and good-humored.

Putting Ethics into Action

The following guide, which is adapted to meet the specific needs of public relations professionals, is offered as one approach that PRSA members
may find helpful in addressing ethical dilemmas:
1. Define the specific ethical issue/conflict.
2. Identify internal/external factors (e.g., legal, political, social, economic) that may
influence the decision.
3. Identify key values.
4. Identify the parties who will be affected by the decision and define the public
relations professional’s obligation to each.
5. Select ethical principles to guide the decision-making process.
6. Make a decision and justify it.

In-class example:
You are the public relations professional for a housing developer. Your company’s next
project is multi-family housing for middle-income families. In gathering information
related to the project, you find that the land for the complex was the site of a landfill. An
EPA report shows very low levels of contaminants that are not life-threatening hazards.
You discuss this information with your supervising boss, who is not a public relations
professional, and recommend ways to explain the landfill history in promotional
materials. Your boss tells you that the landfill information is not to be included in the
materials. He does not want this issue proactively discussed. What do you do?
1. Define the specific ethical issue/conflict.
2. Identify internal/external factors (e.g., legal, political, social, economic) that may
influence the decision.
3. Identify key values.
4. Identify the parties who will be affected by the decision and define the public
relations professional’s obligation to each.
5. Select ethical principles to guide the decision-making process.
6. Make a decision and justify it.

Videos

Professionalism and challenges:

Melanie McNaughton (ethics and PR):


Thank You for Smoking Merchants of Death:

Edelman Trust Barometer

Dan Edelman on ethical decision making

IPR: how people identify truth and fact online

In-Class Activities
1. Do some thinking about your own personal value system and how it will drive your ethical choices in the professional world. Which one of the standards in the PRSA Codes of Ethics best exemplifies your approach to the profession?

2. Case Activities: A number of situations can raise ethical questions in the public relations business. Resolving these situations often involve sifting through a number of factos including your philosophical orientation, your personal belief system, and your understanding of professional standards. What ethical concerns are raised in the following situations? What would you do in each situation? Follow the 6 steps to identify a resolution:

  1. Identify the ethical issues and/or conflicts
  2. Determine internal/external factors likely to influence your decision.
  3. Choose key values that apply.
  4. Consider parties who will be affected by your decision and evaluate the public
    relations professional’s obligation to each one.
  5. Select ethical principles to guide your decision making.
  6. Make a decision and offer a brief rationale.

Leave your answers as a reply to this blog post.

Case A: You work for Amy’s Baking Company (https://youtu.be/7uPOGxUtZvk?t=1m36s) , and the management wants a higher profile on such consumer review sites such as Amazon and Yelp. The owners believer there are “haters” and bloggers who hate them personally and are taking it out on the restaurant. The owners also have anger management issues and lash out at clients. Several freelance writers contact you with an offer. They will post multiple favorable reviews of your product under various anonymous names and only charge $35 for every posted review. What do you do?

Case B: The president of the company decides it would be “good PR” and visibility for her to have a personal Twitter account and write a weekly column/blog in the local business journal. She, of course, doesn’t have much time for this so she asks you, the public relations intern, to “ghost-write” the tweets and the blogs in her name. What do you do?

Case C: Your public relations firm has a luxury resort hotel in Hawaii as a client. It is important to get an articles about the hotel in various leading travel magazines. One idea is to invite influential travel writers and their families for a one-week stay at the hotel, all expenses paid, with the understanding that they would write a favorable article about their experience. What do you do?

Case D: The agency you work for has been retained by a manufacturer of light-rail and subway cars to monitor public transit funding and identify local and regional government
agencies with plans to develop or expand transportation systems. Among several
strategies, the agency is responsible for organizing and managing citizen groups to
influence the funding and political decision-making process regarding rail cars. The
client does not want to be identified as the funder of Citizens Advocating for Affordable
Transit (CAAT). A reporter who covers transit approaches you at a CAAT meeting and
asks if one of your clients is backing CAAT and the identity of the client. You have a
good and trusted relationship with this reporter but your boss has said that the agency
will lose the client if its association with CAAT is publicly disclosed. What do you do?

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