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Public Relations Ethics

Shannon A. Bowen

Subject Communication Studies » Strategic Communication and PR

People Kant, Immanuel

Key-Topics ethics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


A core responsibility of communicators in public relations is to manage issues (→  Issue Management ; Communication Management ). Public relations holds the substantial moral responsibility of defining issues, communicating about those issues with publics and the media, and working to prevent and resolve problems between organizations and publics. This weighty responsibility includes deciding what concepts are related or unrelated to an issue, what facts are relevant or irrelevant, and what potential solutions exist. A moral responsibility to conduct these activities in an ethical manner is inherent in pursuits of such significance, and public relations professionals worldwide are therefore obligated to act with ethical rectitude by the very nature of their responsibilities (→  Corporate Social Responsibility ). Critics argue that public relations has no ethical compass, engages in unrestrained advocacy, or even that it is among the most immoral of fields (→  Advertising Ethics ; Ethics in Journalism ). Proponents argue that public relations professionals should (and do) act as “ethical consciences” within their organizations, or for clients. Both points of view are able to offer examples and cases in which their beliefs are illustrated. Ethical public relations is one of the foundations of the research supporting excellent public relations management ( Verčič et al. 1996 ; Grunig ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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