Home > PR ethics > Does PR Need an Ethics Style Guide?

Does PR Need an Ethics Style Guide?

October 19, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Every PR person at one time in their career has had The Elements of Style and the AP Style Guide on their desk, but maybe it is about time to add an Ethics Style Guide to the library.

Of course there are some floating around, the PRSA has one, and some PR folks have attempted to publish them, but safe to say there isn’t an agree upon standard.

Why is it necessary? I’m not saying that it is necessary because the industry is a cesspool of immoral and or deviant behavior. It’s necessary because the industry is spending too much time discussing the issue trying to reach common ground.

What is the debate? We all know lying is wrong. We all know spreading rumor is inappropriate. The real confusing issues come with social media. Astroturfing, ghost blogging, ghost tweeting etc.

Ask a PR pro if they think Astroturfing is wrong and most will say – Yes. But that is because it sounds wrong. Ask them if they think it is okay to post a comment on Amazon when their client writes a new book and I fear many would say that is – part of the job.

Ghost blogging and tweeting? I say wrong, but there is far from a consensus on this topic. A solid argument is the fact the PR folks write speeches, email, quotes and article for executives all the time. I think it is different, but the argument is valid.

Now I’m not saying that I’m beyond reproach or that I should be anyones moral compass, in fact, I’ll use this forum to admit that I often break one of the rules of blogging. I often edit my posts without posting the edit marks. Oh the horror.

Now if I posted a blog entry in April that predicted in that the Red Sox would win the World Series but in October changed it to read the Yankees would win the series – now that is wrong. But if I write the Rod Sex will will the series, I’m going to make that obvious correction without the edit marks.

So anyway, until such a comprehensive PR Ethics Style Guide is published, I’ll stick to the self-governing guidelines of transparency, honesty and personal integrity as my guide.

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