On a daily basis, we make decisions. I might not think to myself “oh, is this ethical decision?”I might think, “is this the right thing to do?”
PR firms come across myriads of these situations on a daily basis. What to do in ethically sticky situations? What is the right thing to do?
According to Bowles and Boden in Creative Editing, ethics is “a set of principles of conduct governing an individual or group.” These principles can see the success or failure of a company.
In my (hypothetical) future…
One day, I want to work in the world of luxury events, automobiles and products. Inevitably, I will come in contact with situations that will require ethical thinking.
- In the luxury services industry, for example, it may be common-place for clients to give gifts. I’m imagining some nice stuff, trust me. I would have to either reject the gifts or be able to not let those gifts influence the way that I would portray that company from a public relations standpoint.
- If I do become influencial or successful, I may want to use that to my advantage. Unfortunately, ethics dictates that I should not use my status to gain advantages in my personal life. Should I mention my status when trying to get a home loan? Probably not.
- Say I receive some nasty information about a client, what do I do? Do I withhold the information because it would damage that client’s reputation with the adage that I am not being transparent, or do I release the information to maintain my integrity and honesty? A stinky situation, but in the end, PR is all about integrity, so telling the truth is key.
On the PRSA website it states, “The practice of public relations can present unique and challenging ethical issues. At the same time, protecting integrity and the public trust are fundamental to the profession’s role and reputation. Bottom line, successful public relations hinges on the ethics of its practitioners.”
Granted, I may end up living large out in Los Angeles, taking clients to dinner and flying across the world to represent all the fabulous companies that have hired me, but when it comes down to it, the only way I can truly live that lifestyle is by maintaining my integrity and thinking carefully through those tough situations.