Thursday, October 8, 2015

Do PRs need more journalism Ethics???

Kristian McPeek

PR practitioners should try and adapt some of the journalism code of ethics. Currently many PR people focus on the company they work for and their clients, but maybe it’s time for a change. PR practitioners do have their own code of ethics that are similar to those outlined in the journalism's code of ethics. They have the Public Relations Society of America ethical guidelines that cover the necessity for honesty, accuracy, integrity, and confidentiality. They also have the Professional Standards Advisories (PSAs), which address specific PR areas and practices.

Like journalists, they get the best results when following these guidelines. Sometimes at first it may not seem like it went their way, or they made a mistake by not cutting corners, but just like journalists who change or edit the story, to what they think makes a better one; once they are caught, all of their credibility and respect is lost. However, are these codes enough, or would PR practitioners be better of adapting some of the journalism code of ethics?

In journalism you shouldn’t allow scarce resources, deadline pressure, or competition to give you an excuse to cross the line, PR shouldn’t allow things to cause them to break the rules either. Even though they might be under pressure with demands that need to be met, fear the loss of their job, or the ability break the rules without the manager's knowledge, they should remain professional and stay true to their ethics code..  

Just like it is unethical for a journalist to mislead their audience by deliberately distorting context or information, PR should also keep away from misleading their audience. Practitioners can do this by making sure that they choose a correct and truthful headline over something that is witty. This is a good way that they can keep away from the message being misunderstood. Misunderstood messages cause problems for companies all the time. The Colbert Report’s PR team learned this through a social media post that had people calling for the show to be cancelled.

One problem that is very obvious, but sometimes gets over looked, is to stay away from stereotyping. Most of the time when it comes to PR stereotyping is not intentional, but if they watch closely they can at least do their best to avoid it.

Just like with the journalism code, there is never just two sides of a story, and that you should make sure you have all the facts before making your assumption, the same thing goes for PR. For public relation specialists, just providing a little balance would bring a lot more trust in not just them, but also the businesses that they represent.

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