Chapter 3: Ethics

J.A. Jaksa and M.S. Pritchard define ethics as, “concerns 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.”

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) have worked hard to establish a standard of ethical and professional public relations practices.  The PRSA is the largest public relations organization in the world, consisting of 22,000 members.  The IABC’s code is based on three principles:

  1. Professional communication is legal
  2. Professional communication is ethical
  3. Prefessional communication is in good taste

The most important principle is for a person to act like a professional by having these characteristics:

  • A sense of independence
  • A sense of responsibility to society and the public interest
  • Manifest concern for 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 of the moment

When it comes to ethics in individual practice, it is important for a person to:

  • 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
  • Strivefor a balance between loyalty to the organization and duty to the public
  • Don’t sacrafice long term objectives for short term gains

Basically, “To thine own self be true,” advised New York public relations executive Chester Burger.

According to the PRSA, gifts of any kind can contaminate the free flow of accurate and truthful information to the public.  Small items, such as a T-shirt, are of such little value that they aren’t considered “gifts.”  More expensive gifts will cause scrutiny and could come off as a bribe.

Overall, the Golden Rule is to simply love your neighbor as yourself!

This information was taken from the book  Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, Ninth Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron.

Published in: on April 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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