Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Real Truth in Public Relations

The Real Truth in Public Relations
Nathaniel Podboy

Media today is filled with confounding variables that settle on one definition of the truth. From what I've learned throughout this course, televised news stations are filled with more opinion than fact and that can lead to an obstruction of truth. In the article, “‘Truthfulness’ in Communication is Both a Reasonable and Achievable Goal for Public Relation Practitioners,” the author demonstrates how there is a clear difference in the definition of truth when dealing with Public Relations. It is the Public Relations representatives' job to tell the utmost truth, but the temptation to say dishonest statements to help out their own company.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, they incorporate a code of ethics into their regime to try to eliminate the boundary between truth and untruth. The 'Code' allows for Public Relations representatives to spread the flow of communication from one person to the next as easy as possible. The Code institutes six different core values including Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty and Fairness.

In Alina Popescu’s article, No PR leads to Bad PR, she states that there is this delusion of beliefs that people hold that “bad PR only comes from failed or irresponsibly planned actions of public relation specialists.” She brings up the point that having no PR to handle the negativity is the cause of the problem, rather than PR helping you better communicate with existing and prospect customers.

Public Relations has taken a new turn since the technology boom in the past couple of years. The Internet is full of social media and blogs that are essentially watchdogs for different companies. In Gerry McCusker’s article The Truth About PR Disasters, he explained that PR practitioners are affiliated to membership that may not play by the rules. He says that for every one who plays by some set of rules, there could be six others who’re not governed at all. He claims that the problem with Public Relations is that, “There’s a combustible mix of malpractice (by clients and PRO’s), misjudgment (by PR people) and also the media’s own insatiable hunger for stories with negative or ‘disastrous’ editorial content…” He ends his article with a few words of wisdom that every journalist working in a disastrous situation can live by: “But should you find your client – or yourself – involved in a PR disaster always manage the situation ethically, with good grace, humility or humor – at least that’s a good foundation on which to rebuild any damage done by a PR disaster.”

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