Principles of PR was a class that introduced the topic of ethical communications in the PR world to students in the program. Tim spoke in depth on the importance of ethics in and outside of the job as professional communicators. It is important why ethical decision making is important in PR because of several possible reasons. Decisions can be profitable, good for the company, helps one climb their career ladder, top management is doing it, and so on.
Laws are what establish the framework in which business activities can be conducted. According to the Merriam Website definition, ethics are the rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad. Ethics is categorized into two classifications, ethics of justice and ethics of care. Ethics of justice is mainly involved with the rights, laws and obeying the rules while ethics of care is mostly concerned with being responsible and having the desire to reduce harm and suffering.
There are two tests to determine if action is ethically correct or not during one’s PR job. The “light of day test” which examines how you would feel if your action appeared publicly on television or a newspaper. There is also the “ventilation test” that assesses the particular ethical action by asking someone you trust, such as a family member, if action is ethically right or wrong.
Generally, associations have ethical standards and guidelines with penalties for professionals to follow. In class we explored two associations, the CPRS and the IABC Code of Ethics. Codes set expectations in the workplace and makes it more professional. Our class participated in discussion boards via eLearn on a variety of ethical dilemmas and how as PR professionals we will be resolving the issues. Of course, we had to refer back to the code of ethics of either associations to support our verdict.
It is important to abide with the PR code of ethics because PR is sometimes known to others as “spin” or “flack” in the industry. PR is the strategic telling of the truth and persuasive information needs to be objective showing both sides of the story. We believe in truthful communication that is supported and using discretion when it comes to the media.
Here is additional insight on the subject and how organizations can improve ethical decision making from eHow.