Ethics within PR

As a part of my integrated communications module, I had to write 7 reflective journals covering topics from our lectures and using real-world knowledge. This was the first piece I wrote to cover how ethics have changed within Public Relations.

With the rise of social media, ethics have been brought into question more than ever within Public Relations and marketing. It is now easier for organisations to be called on offensive material that is broadcast, if it upsets viewers and threatens creating a bad reputation for the company. Facts can be quickly checked by readers and opinions are voiced a lot faster on social media, which describes a huge change from before the internet was around.

Before the internet, there was not an easy way for viewers to express their dislike over promotional pieces – and it was not so public, with the viewer in control and the organisation trying to protect their reputation.

Recently, Avon launched a campaign for their cellulite fixer which garnered a lot of criticism and offense from women online. Comments were quickly built up as the posts were shared and more awareness was raised – not the type of awareness the company wanted. The risk they ran by posting an item deemed to correct a woman’s body, when other companies (dove,) have stepped up to celebrate all shapes and sizes – seems reckless.

The problem with looking at ethics, is that there is no official system for ensuring that that the code of ethics is kept. That suggests that PR practitioners must take their own morality into account, and the long-term, future prospect of their organisation. Personally, the Avon campaign would not have been one that I would ethically have liked to be connected to, as it goes against my moral standards. recently wrote an article and made the comment that we should be garnering “Positive PR” and avoiding these potholes. ff

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