Published on June 24, 2017, at 5:20 a.m.
by Elizabeth Selmarten.
It’s about halfway through 2017, and the world has stood witness to tirades on Twitter, terrorist attacks, major news network sex scandals, government leaks, political conflicts of interest, hacking allegations, a tone-deaf soda company, a continued uprise of fake news and most recently, a comedian distastefully doing a piece featuring a fake severed head of the current POTUS.
With all of that in mind, there’s no shortage of ethical grey areas in the year of 2017. People face a very different world than years ago. Regardless of what’s going on in the news today or what leaders are doing, the bottom line is that PR practitioners should not lose sight of their moral compass. The PR profession is based around maintaining a honest, trustworthy relationship between the client and their publics.
Being ethical on a daily basis remains essentially the same as it has in the past. While what is considered ethical varies per person, depending on one’s own set of beliefs and moral principles, we can all agree one should maintain values such as honesty and integrity.
Beyond that, what are some ways that PR practitioners can continue “being ethical” in 2017?
Don’t point fingers
Part of today’s issues stem from people pointing fingers at others. This doesn’t do any favors for you or your client. By trying to shift the blame and play the he-said-she-said game, you look like an irresponsible jerk. You also lose credibility and respect from your publics as well as people outside those publics.
With the rise of fake news and the Red Scare-esque level of mistrust in companies and organizations today, it’s important to remain transparent and show your publics what you’re doing. Not only does it inform the publics, but it also gives you the opportunity to control the message to an extent and lessen the chance of people believing false information not released by you.
While it is important to be transparent, one should also be aware and make sure to not compromise confidences. Disclosure of confidential information is not good for you and your client, as leaking information is not only problematic but can also have serious legal consequences. Don’t be a leaker.
When in doubt, test it out
It’s a good idea to test out your ideas for strategies and tactics as well as even social media posts and press releases when you may be pushing the envelope into an ethical grey area. Had Pepsi reached out for feedback on the Kendall Jenner ad beyond its office, it could have avoided releasing an offensive ad that caused a lot of backlash and mistrust.