PR and ethics

Some may say PR and ethics make for uneasy bedfellows, and unfortunately the widely reported actions of Bell Pottinger in South Africa demonstrated the worst side of the PR industry.

The firm orchestrated a campaign in South Africa which was “likely to inflame racial discord.” A truly unacceptable action, for which Bell Pottinger is now (rightly) suffering the consequences.

There will be agencies and PR practitioners who push the boundaries too far or even take a step over. This is something which is completely unnecessary. The only thing stopping PR practitioners from developing and implementing great strategies that deliver on a client’s objectives is their own lack of talent. Being dishonest and lacking integrity is no way to conduct business in any industry.

For Star PR, ethical PR means correctly advising our clients about using the right PR tools and methods to communicate the messages they want to get across to their target audiences. There really is no need to use underhand methods.

Some companies and organisations may see PR as the dark arts, but PR is actually an important part of the marketing mix, and when done correctly, it’s a highly effective activity.

PR and ethics chartered institute of public relations

Chartered Institute for Public Relations, Code of Conduct

Star PR’s team are members of the Chartered Institute for Public Relations and as such, we are bound by its Code of Conduct, which is outlined below:

  • maintain the highest standards of professional endeavour, integrity, confidentiality, financial propriety and personal conduct;
  • deal honestly and fairly in business with employers, employees, clients, fellow professionals, other professions and the public;
  • respect, in their dealings with other people, the legal and regulatory frameworks and codes of all countries where they practise;
  • uphold the reputation of, and do nothing that would bring into disrepute, the public relations profession or the Chartered Institute of Public Relations;
  • respect and abide by this Code and related Notes of Guidance issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and ensure that others who are accountable to them (e.g. subordinates and sub-contractors) do the same;
  • encourage professional training and development among members of the profession in order to raise and maintain professional standards generally.

This spotlight on Bell Pottinger and the fallout, doesn’t mean the industry will suddenly be free of this sort of activity, because it’s impossible for all business sectors and industries to be free of unethical behavior, or for such practices to be publicised.

But what it does do, is make people, both PR practitioners and their clients, sit up and take note, and hopefully think twice about using PR for unethical means.

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