Ethics in PR

Ethics has always been a tricky topic for PR practitioners; “spin doctors” tend to walk in the grey area, which sometimes get morally challenged. But is there a different standard for ethics in different aspects of PR practice?

I think for those who work in the areas and campaigns which are related to the welfare and benefits of the public, there should be less allowance for the “grey area”. No matter it is for political PR, consumer PR or public sector PR. Practitioners should make sure the PR activities would not be part of the “scheme” that could possibly harm the public.

However, for some other PR practice, it is purely personal choice to do the “spin”, such as Max Cliford, the man of celebrity PR. People have controversial opinions about him, as he’s always playing the trick to manipulate the media and create buzz-----but, for celebrities only. It’s different from starting a war, or running away from taking responsibility for product quality problems, or covering the truth that the public deserve to know. He is doing the publicity for the celebrities, and worst of the worst, the public got some annoying gossips and tacky headlines. All the manipulations and spinning is part of his work, no matter how others hate it, and how fluffy it makes our PR industry looks like, maybe Max Clliford hasn’t done the “right thing”, but he hasn’t caused any inconvenience to the “greater good” of the public, either.

Therefore, I do believe ethics in PR industry should be treated differently in terms of different practice. As long as it does not hurt the public interests, or most people’s welfare, it’s remained in the safe zone called “personal choice” and deserves less judgment.

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