Ethics Month Tweet Chat Recap: Maintaining PR’s Ethical Standards

PRSA held its second Ethics Month 2011 Tweet chat this week. Using the hashtag #PRethics, Patrick McLaughlin, APR, a member of PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), led a wide-ranging and engaging discussion of the challenges of maintaining ethical standards in public relations.

A full transcript of the chat can be found here. The next #PRethics chat is scheduled for 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 20. Recaps and transcripts of previous Ethics Month Tweet chats can be found here.

The discussion was based on a blog post by James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, who wrote in this blog earlier this week about ways that executives can better use public relations to restore trust in business. Lukaszewski advocated that senior PR professionals take on the role of Chief Integrity Officer to ensure a company’s reputation, credibility and integrity with the public are grounded in ethical standards that meet society’s norms and demands.

@jgombita set the tone for the chat by declaring, resolutely, that “anything that gives you pause is most likely unethical,” when asked what constitutes unethical public relations practices.

The chat also focused on a recent example of unethical PR practices. A Sept. 13, 2011, front-page expose byThe Los Angeles Times revealed that the Central Basin Municipal Water District, a taxpayer-funded agency, hired Coghlan Consulting Group to write fake news stories for a supposedly objective news website, News Hawks Review, which was managed by the PR firm and indexed by Google News.

Denis Wolcott, APR, a member of the Board of Directors of the PRSA Los Angeles Chapter, blogged for PRSAY about the ethical implications of this incident.

The second Ethics Month 2011 Tweet chat also focused on the ethical dilemmas PR pros have faced in 2011 and how they handled those situations; how the PR profession can change the perception that a focus on ethics is “sissy”; and how organizations can build a culture of integrity.

You can find more commentary and insight on PRSA’s Ethics Month here. Follow the #PRethics conversation here — or read the transcript, embedded below.

What are some of the challenges you face in maintaining ethical PR standards?

Keith Trivitt is editor of PRSAY and associate director of public relations at the Public Relations Society of America.

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