Sunday, April 19, 2009

ethics of public relations

Nancy's blog reminded me of something I have been thinking about for a while. I have thought a lot about the issue of ethics in advertising and public relations since we talked about them in class. (ps... I am in public relations) I have been sort of torn up inside because I don't think I could lie to the press about something that needed to get out to the public, despite what company I work for. The more and more I think about it I feel like public relations representatives have to be deceiving and only look out for their own companies. I don't think I could do that for a living. I am currently working with a public relations agency and I feel like everything we do has an angle to it, everything is done just to give traffic for the companies they work for. As far as working with the press I feel like they have to wiggle their way into getting something for free in say a feature story, but shove as much advertising in there as possible. It doesn’t seem right! It may just be this particular firm and public relations representatives definitely have their place in society, but it may not be in me. Anyone else feeling this way? Any advice?


  1. I routinely have the same thoughts about going into the Public Relations field. This is certainly why PR students and individuals who work in PR get such a bad rap, especially from journalists. It's because there is so much potential for dishonesty, deceit, and, on a more subtle level, the framing of a story in this field. But I don't think it has to be like that. I think if you decide to work for a company that is ethical and that may provide a very, fundamental and important need for other words: a company you respect, then there's no reason why your advertising and writing wouldn't reflect the truth. I think it all comes down to finding a job like that. Ideally, I want to do PR for a great non-profit organization...something I would feel good about doing rather than something where I would feel like I would be compromising ethical standards in order to turn a profit. I used to be a print journalism major and I kinda despised the field of PR as well, and then I took my first PR class and got involved in a project for CAPSA and it kinda changed my perspective about the possibilities of PR and I realized that I could represent and help an organization that is worth supporting. Anyway, long post, by that's my two cents.

  2. I'm a print major, but I understand and sympathize with your plight. I've thought of it often, actually, just because of the contention that goes on between print journalists and PR people, which is really inane. But it doesn't have to be like that. They are two entirely different fields with different goals that need to learn how to work together. PR is not journalism, and the other way around, and people need to respect that. PR people feed journalists stories, journalists prepare the stories for the news and print them. It's supposed to be a symbiotic relationship. Don't let the contention sway you! And just because you are not a journalist reporting the facts every day does not mean you are deceitful. Yes, there are corrupt PR organizations out there with weasely PR people, but there are corrupt organizations in a lot of fields. :) Yes, there are some professionals who have, unfortunately created some negative stereotypes for your field. But we print journalists are called deceitful and smarmy as well because of corrupt people in our industry! So if a print person is pointing fingers at you, tell them to stick it. You're doing YOUR job. And I agree with Mack- it does not have to be like that. You create your profession for yourself by deciding what kind of organizations to be involved with. My mother has made an honorable career as a PR director for many, many years. I don't know all the details of her career, and I'm sure she's had struggled with ethical issues involving clients, but I think that's part of the job. I definitely think you can make a great PR career if you make the right choices. And that's straight from the mouth of a print journalist.