Chapter Nine of Think Public Relations discusses ethics and the law and how that pertains to media. In the book, the authors say, “The difficult in ascertaining whether an act is ethical lies in the fact that individuals have different standards and perceptions of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Most ethical conflicts are not black-or-white issues, but rather fall into a gray area (p 182).” I believe this has a large presence in the job of a PR professional. It’s their job to relate to the public what needs to be said, but be careful of the ways in which it is done.
The PRSA has established a code of ethics including advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. These are all characteristics a PR professional should be sure to maintain in the work force.When it comes to dealing with the media and relating to the public, one cannot be too careful with their reputation and job title.
Another important factor for PR professionals is dealing with the news media. Public Relations professionals have to be careful with their relationship to the media and be careful not to give out un-substantiated information, personal favors or gifts. I believe this is especially critical for those in the PR field because anyone could take a bribe in order to get their name out in the public or to get a higher stake in the company they work for.
Due to their position in the media and job field, PR professionals also have to be careful with how they handle legal issues including defamation and libel. The book gives several examples of many different corporate giants who had to pay millions of dollars because of false advertising or improper use of images or work without the author’s consent. Also, PR professionals must be careful with expressing their opinion in the corporate environment, especially if working from company owned computers which have a right to monitoring all e-mails. Due to this, PR pro’s should be extremely up to date with current laws and have good relationships with the legal department of the company they work for should anything like this happen.