Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ethics and PR

So, you've found yourself on the "Welcome to PR @ Mohawk College" blog. Whether you've stumbled across this page, or you are a prospective PR student looking for some firsthand insight into the program ... WELCOME! 

The purpose of this blog is to promote the program to future students and the industry. My classmates have touched on various PR topics, and many have highlighted the standards that we adhere to in the program and will undoubtedly follow once we graduate. I'd like to briefly introduce a topic heavily discussed in the Principles of PR class - Ethics and Public Relations (the "peanut butter and jam relationship" of PR). 

Determining if behaviour is right or wrong is challenging, and unfortunately the issue of unethical behaviour is no stranger to the public relations industry. PR practitioners are required to be honest, trustworthy and credible, yet in this business, unethical behaviour - on the part of PR practitioners and clients - continues to be an issue for the industry. That is why understanding ethics, the causes of unethical behaviour, and ways in which to analyze ethical dilemmas is essential to helping professional communicators in making ethical decisions. 

In the industry, unethical behaviour may be caused by infectious greed, the expectation of not getting caught, an attempt to outperform employees, and most importantly an unwillingness to take a stand for what is right. If PR hope to maintain and gain professional status in the eyes of others, it must continue to emphasize the importance of ethics and inspire practitioners to execute higher standards. This is precisely what the IABC and CPRS achieve with their "Codes of Ethics." 

The topic of Ethics and PR is one I think I will revisit throughout my studies and career. I studied International Development and Human Geography at the University of Guelph, and I am pleased to pair this undergraduate degree with a PR certificate. I am extremely passionate about the concept of sustainability and believe that socially, environmentally, and economically responsible practices should be a priority among professionals in the industry and their clients. I believe I'd have a hard time working for a client that is not conscious of sustainable practices, and perhaps this is a foreseen "ethical dilemma" I'll be faced with. I want more than anything to find myself working for and with people who share my passion, and I think it will take some extra research when it comes to searching for a company, organization or government body that I'd like to align myself with. Here is to a career (and life) of ethical behaviour! 

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