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Ethics and Professionalism

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1 Ethics and Professionalism
Chapter 3

2 Ethics Defined: “Ethics is concerned with how we should live our lives. It focuses on questions about what is right or wrong, fair or unfair, caring or uncaring, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible, and the like.” (Jaksa and Pritchard, “Methods of Analysis”)

3 PR professionals have the burden of making ethical decisions that satisfy:
The public interest Their employer (or client) Their professional organization (PRSA for example) Their personal values In an ideal world, these four areas would not conflict but in reality they often do. (see examples, page 76)

4 Professional Codes of Ethics in PR
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSSA) Code of Ethics (page 78) The Code’s core values: Advocacy Independence Honesty Loyalty Expertise Fairness International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Code of Ethics (p.80)

5 Personal Ethics Be honest at all times
Convey a sense of business ethics based on your own standards and those of society Respect the integrity and position of your opponents and audiences Develop trust by emphasizing substance over triviality Present all sides of an issue Strive for a balance between loyalty to the organization and duty to the public Don’t sacrifice long-term objectives for short-term gains

6 Licensing & Accreditation
Licensing—the debate continues over whether public relations should require professional licensing (such as the medical, legal and real estate fields have). There are strong pros and cons on each side (pages 86-87) Accreditation—professional development certification programs help improve standards and professionalism in the field

7 PR Professionalism: Act like a professional in the field, by having:
A sense of independence A sense of responsibility to society and the public interest Be concerned about the competence and honor of the profession as a whole A higher loyalty to the standards of the profession and fellow professionals than to the employer/client of the moment. The reference point in all PR activity must be the standards of the profession and not those of the client or the employer

8 Ethical Concerns include:
“front groups” video news releases (VNRs) Internet Public Relations Each involve possible deceptive omission of who or what is truly behind the PR initiative.

9 Ethical Dealings with News Media
The idea that, in dealing with the media, “anything less than total honesty will destroy credibility and, with it, the PR practitioner’s usefulness to an employer.” Gifts, of any kind, according to the PRSA, can contaminate the free flow of accurate and truthful information to the public. “Shades of Gray” in the News Business: the relationship between automotive writers and car manufacturers, for example (on payroll at car company as a consultant); magazines are increasingly blurring the line between news features and advertisements; celebrities appearing on talks shows and endorsing products; “product placement” is growing and growing

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