A horde of past shenanigans at the hands of PR practitioners has left the ethical standards of the profession in disarray. A study undertaken for the Public Relations Review (Callison et al) in 2003 and revisited in 2012 revealed an overall negative association between ethical standards and practitioners. The study further divulged that ‘liar’ was the most common word associated adjective to PR practitioners. The results from Callison’s research over a 9 year period exemplify a weakened public perception of the industry’s members.
While there are ethical requirements, it is common practice that the individual conjures their own ethical standards based on their personal morals. Applying this to the current situation, whereby one has a personal connection with a member of the bid-assessment panel, a question arises. What would you do?
Transparency is crucial. The Public Relations Institute of Australia (2009) practitioners are to act ‘fairly and honestly’; with any conflicting interests on a members behalf being squashed. In order to remain credible, the relationship must be noted. Additionally, Wilcox et al (2014) maintain that one cannot assume an “advocacy” position if it would entail any form of bias and/or manipulation.
Based on this information and in compliance with the PRIA (2009), this information must be brought to light as it may stand to impair a parties judgement and the respective personnel must be informed. Carl Botan of Purdue University (1997) puts forth the notion that PR campaigns are, in essence, strategic. While it may be seen as a strategic tactic to use personal connections to further ones agenda, it is not ethical. It is these measures that must be taken in order to rectify the credibility and competency of the profession.
Botan, C, 1997, ‘Ethics in Strategic Communication Campaigns: The Case for a New Approach to Public Relations’, The Journal of Business Communications, vol.34, no.2, p.188-202.
Callison, C, Merle, PF, & Seltzer, T 2014, ‘Smart friendly liars: Public perception of public relations practitioners over time’, Public Relations Review, pp. 829-831. Available from: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2014.09.003. [11 April 2016].
Hazlett, K 2015, ‘Do the Right Thing’, Public Relations Tactics, vol. 22, no. 9, p. 12.
PRIA, 2009, ‘Public Relations Insittute of Australia (PRIA) Code of Ethics, Retrived from: https://www.pria.com.au/documents/item/6317
Wilcox, Cameron, Reber and Shin (2014) Think Public Relations, Pearson Education Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, United States of America. Chapter 9, pp. 182