It's very disheartening to learn that professionals within the PR industry even question whether they should be ethical or not. PR professionals are the people who help mold how society views things and for them to ever lie makes other PR professionals lose their credibility.
In the article PR Ethics and Reputation: PR Professionals Are Not "Yes Me" When Pressured to Be Unethical, New Baylor Study Finds PR pros are taking back their power and standing against bosses who as them to be unethical. Researchers from Baylor University interview PR pros in the United States and Australia to ask them about times that they've been asked to be unethical or whether they had ever been unethical. Some said that when they didn't do what was asked of them they were often fired. On the other hand, some of them were commended for having a separate opinion than their boss. One of the participants said "I can't afford to lose my credibility...As PR professionals it's all we have. And if I lose my credibility here, it's not like I can just go start over with someone else, somewhere else." I've always thought of PR pros as the backbone of their respective organizations, and for them to be unethical at any point is unacceptable. But it's equally unacceptable for an employer to ask them to do otherwise.
Stated in the article, Follow the Leader: Ethics and Responsibility the author discusses how it's the CEO's responsibility to set the tone of the company. If the CEO doesn't create an environment demanding everyone to be ethical it will become a rippling affect within the company. Or on the other hand, sometimes when companies expect unrealistic expectations from their employees they begin to crack under pressure and feel like the only way to stay afloat is to bend the rules.
Even though it's the CEO's responsibility to create an ethical atmosphere of the company it's also up to PR pros to maintain their own standards. Many times people within the PR industry see many things that CEO's might not see and it's up to them maintain ethical standards on their own as well. Many times as journalists and PR pros people are often skeptical of the facts we are reporting so there is no room for error.