Ethics in Public Relations

Most organizations use public relations to improve and promote goodwill to their intended audiences. In this manner, organizations also convey information about their goods and services and, simultaneously, express that they are socially sensitive and caring organizations with respect for the ethics and principles that govern business and society. This is especially true in the information age, when any PR catastrophe can traverse the globe in a matter of minutes through a network of interconnected media channels.

PR is the heart of any organization. It acts as a valve that manages the flow of information from the organization to its clients and the community and vice versa. Besides performing routine tasks, PR professionals manage crises and issues. They guide an organization’s corporate vision, strengthen its mission, and sustain it during times of market instability.

Because ethics forms the fundamental principle of communication, it is naturally an important issue for any corporate PR department. Corporate PR is built upon a range of philosophies such as Utilitarianism and Deontology and those put forth by Bentham, Kant, Rawls, and others.

Looking at corporate PR from all angles, a standard of ethics is necessary to sustain an organization. Though many people believe that corporate PR is essentially false, it plays an important and crucial role in corporate organizations today.
PR has the power to influence the reasoning and thoughts of intended audiences. For this reason, many individuals and organizations are critical of PR. However, the cornerstones of PR are integrity and veracity. PR departments must not resort to lying. Even when managing crises, coming clean is the best strategy. Anything that involves cover-ups may spiral into more and more lies.

To avoid negative issues, every company and organization needs to establish a code of ethics for its public relations activities. In the absence of one, it may be helpful to turn to the many associations such as the IABC and the International Public Relations Association that have established codes of ethics for public relations professionals.

In short, ethics forms the foundation of PR for any organization. Every PR activity that an organization conducts has interconnections and can link back to PR. Everything that is said and done leaves an indelible mark on organizational psyche.
On the net:Ethical Public Relations: Not an Oxymoron

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