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Public Relations and Ethics
Public Relations: Image
 PR Stunt
 PR Ploy
 PR Exercise
 Spin doctors
 PR is organized lying
 PR ethics – an oxymoron
 Too little authority
 PR Association Codes:
Don’t speak specifically enough to particular situations
Have very little disciplinary “tooth”
What is ethics?
 “standards of conduct that indicate how one should
behave based on moral duties and virtues”
Acting to cause minimal harm
Rooted in both personal conscience and social norms
of right behaviour
Thus rooted in culture
Thus cultural variation in what’s considered ‘right
Three Broad Approaches
 Utilitarian
 Advocacy
 Situational
Value of Public Relations: 4 Levels
 Particular PR programme
 PR function
 Organizational effectiveness
 Societal level
 Value of ethical practice: ethical communication
increases PR value to organization by sustaining
good, long-term relationships with publics
Value ctd
 Image of organisations dependent on ‘personality’
not just goods + services
 PR as ‘internal conscience’
 PR focus on long-term sustainability of organizations
 PR: facilitator of social responsibility + corporate
How PR helps organizations
 Exchanging information with publics
 Distribution of information internally + externally –
understanding of policy; problem sloving
Facilitating dialogue, maintaining relationships
Communicating across levels on public policy,
activism, social norms + values
Contributing to public interest + social good
News source: defining issues, advancing causes
PR Codes of Ethics: Core Values
 Advocacy
 Honesty
 Expertise
 Independence
 Loyalty
 Fairness
Approaches to PR Ethics
 Adversary Model
 Two-way Communication Model
 Enlightened self-interest Model
 Responsible Advocate Model
Ethics, PR and ‘Green Issues’
 Increasingly topical
 Powerful marketing, PR tool
 Increasing number and range of environmental
 Accuracy of claims?
 Example: Goodyear Tires, Australia