Credibility and Demand
Why does this happen?
According to a recent article we were assigned to read, "Follow the Leader: Ethics and Responsibility," there are a couple reasons why normally credible sources chose to make unethical choices. 1. Internal pressure to reach a type of "goal" or "deadline." 2. Pressure from the competition. 3. No consequences for former unethical decision if the results wanted was created. 4. Fear of disadvantage in workplace.
What do I think about this?
While I agree, these are scary things to think of (no one wants to lose a job or a client to a competitor), what ever happened to being ethical? As consumers, we have been lied to by multiple products for years, and we should value trust for our clients and also for the audience since we have been in their shoes before. Though consumers may think of us as biased since we are working for a specific company, we need them to at least trust us. However, while I would like to think that I, as well as the majority of other public relations majors, would not let a source of authority control my actions, I kept thinking of the Stanley Milgram Experiment. In the experiment, the subject obeyed orders from an authority figure, even when they no longer wanted to participate in the experiment. It is easy for me to say that I would not listen to an authority figure, but as proven in the study, if I was under pressure, I hope that my fear would not be that high that I forget my own ethical decisions.
Hope for the future
Luckily, a study showed that many PR professionals continue to hold ethics higher than the external pressures they could be facing. Another article we read in class, "PR Ethics and Reputation: PR Professionals Are Not “Yes Men” When Pressured to Be Unethical, New Baylor Study Finds," talked about how participants went as far as getting fired or resigning just to follow their values. One professional stated that, " 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." Another believed that disagreement is normal and is expected to happen and, even if you are speaking to your superior, you should stick true to the ethics that you value.
Honestly, although I know the results of the Stanley Milgram Experiment, I was not completely surprised that PR professionals take ethics so seriously. Regardless of if you work for an agency or a specific client, or alone or on a team, you only have your trustworthiness. As I said earlier, consumers are used to being lied to and it is our job to fix that stereotype. We value giving our audience clear, concise and truthful information so if we are missing that, we are missing the most important value of our occupation.
Found on: http://www.nevillehobson.com/2011/09/08/so-what-will-you-do-for-ethics-in-pr/
This is an example of unethical PR, we would never persuade an organization to write badly about a competitor. We focus on ourselves. If we were told to complete this task, many of us would refuse since it does not align with PRSA's values on ethics.