Each academic year the Public Relations Advisory Board (composed of practitioners who are friends and alumni) network with public relations students at Georgia Southern University. Past networking experiences involved student challenges, resume critiques, workshops, etc. This year was a discussion in ethics and public relations.
Industries represented on this years panel included energy, a PR firm, and academics. After approximately 10-15 minutes of each panel member providing examples of ethical dilemmas on their job, along with their opinions on some recent turn of events, the floor was open for questions. Here is a synopsis of the question and answer session.
Is there a difference between company ethics and public ethics?
- There is a difference betwen the two as the company looks at ethical parameters while the public is typcially more morale, not research based. An example would be the debate over the promotion of sexual abstinence. (Don)
- More companies are training on ethical standards. Companies are requiring employees to complete yearly ethics test. Signature confirmation is required upon completion. (Tal)
- Is it okay to blog on behalf of the client? No. But we will help them with the process-outline, editing, help post, etc. The client must be engaged. (Don)
If the problem is in one branch, do you inform all branches or just the one?
- This depends on the situation. If the issue invovles possible contamination then yes, we would tell all of our branches. However, if it is an employee related issue in one area then every branch does not need to know what has taken place. (Tal)
- With regards to education we would inform everyone. Of course we would tailor the message for the audience seeing as individuals will be more concerned with their specific major. (Alex)
Have you ever been in a situation where your ethics where questioned?
- Yes. Just last week with a billing situation. The client stated he didn’t know he would be charged for the services, yet I had documentation proving otherwise. We talked about whether or not he was happy with the services and came to an agreement on the charges. (Don)
- Yes. We had an issue with the Savannah pot hole covers due to a fire beneath the tunnel. We were invited to speak with some of the local authorities. A reporter from the AP was not invited to cover the meeting and called us. The reporter initially believed we were unethical in regards to holding a meeting behind close doors. We explained to him that we were invited to speak at the meeting and did not call the meeting, thus it was not our decision as to which media personnel would or would not be allowed to attend. We did ask the local authorities about allowing the reporter and they said no. After the meeting with local authorities we presented to additional media the same information presented in the meeting. (Tal)
This is truly a synopsis of the information shared by the participating advisory board members. Many thanks to the students in attendance. I look forward seeing you all at the next networking event.