Public Relations Ethics Comic Strip
Public Relations Ethics Comic Strip
Public relations (PR) can be defined as the management of information flow between the public and organizations or individuals. Through public relations, an organization or individual has the opportunity to provide exposure to their audiences on the different topics that interest them. The main objective of a public relations campaign is to influence employees, partners, the public and other stakeholders to subscribe to a certain perspective about its, products, leadership or decisions. Some of the common functions graced by public relations practitioners include press conferences, the writing industry and employee relations (Heath, 2005).
Public relations practitioners have the responsibility of understanding the different cultural differences. When companies have operations in more than one customer segment, it would be impossible to make profits without proper understanding of the different hotel practices and preferences. Various environments have different preferences which are acceptable but which might be unacceptable in other situations. PR professionals study the differences and avoid public mistakes that may tarnish the image of a company. An example is that of the Wal-Mart employee who was sent undercover to a labor union meeting and then later in her real identity. This involves changing the language or adapting a food product for that society (Fitzpatrick & Bronstein, 2006).
Companies that enter a new market also require the services of PR professionals. The PR practitioner needs to work with the marketing and advertising teams to make a stable grasp on the market. The PR officer can do this by creating positive media about the company’s services and products in the local newspapers and digital media. They can also prepare special occasions to help in spreading the new products through word of mouth. An example of good public relation skills can be seen in the way Wal-Mart adopted a kinder, softer and metro sexual organization with the hope of clinching the refined clientele (Cutlip et al, 2000).
Public relations officers have the biggest responsibility of managing conflicts. PR professionals need to possess communication strategies that may enable them to solve disputes. This deliberate attempt at solving disputes is referred to as strategic conflict management. In these situations, public relations involve lowering conflict early before it escalates into a full-blown dispute. PR officers are in charge of making difficult choices and advocate for the interests of the organization (Parsons, 2005). A PR professional team determines the stand taken by the organization with relation to the situation at hand. The stance then dictates the strategy that will be taken that will depend on many factors in the public field. Most practitioners use approaches such as the threat appraisal model in determining the level of threat to their organization (Brown, 2009).
The activities by PR professionals present a conflict of interest in that by practicing public relations, they influence the behavior of their clients that might be detrimental or beneficial. In doing so, the question that arises is whether PR professionals should be responsible for their clients’ actions. Largely, PR practitioners are responsible for the consequences that befall other people because of the clients’ actions. Practitioners should subscribe to similar ethical standards when they consider the actions of their clients as when they consider their own personal actions (Botan & Hazleton, 2006).
Ethical behavior is denoted by the balance between acting in excessive methods. Ethical practitioners should therefore possess a balance between his welfare and that of the public. The ethic codes that regulate the conduct of PR practitioners have been cited as being shallow and ineffective in bridling the actions of practitioners. It is rather difficult to maintain ethics by the practitioners even though their products were unethical. Wal-Mart employees, for instance, engaged in bribing Mexican officials to get advantages such as construction permits. While it is their job, the way in which they went about it was unethical.
Botan, C. H., & Hazleton, V. (2006). Public relations theory II. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Brown, R. (2009). Public relations and the social web: How to use social media and Web 2.0 in communications. London: Kogan Page.
Cutlip, S. M., Center, A. H., & Broom, G. M. (2000). Effective public relations. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.
Fitzpatrick, K., & Bronstein, C. (2006). Ethics in public relations: Responsible advocacy. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications.
Heath, R. L. (2005). Encyclopedia of public relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Parsons, P., & Institute of Public Relations (Great Britain). (2004). Ethics in public relations: A guide to best practice. London: Kogan Page.