BP 10

CO 350

Spring, 13



BP  10


Ethics international



Melbourne mandate



p. 3 What is “listening” all about. Speculate: what might this have to do with ethics?

Research.  The Melbourne Mandates state that organizations have a responsibility to know how all stakeholders will be affected by an organization’s actions.  They also need to know how the actions of the stakeholders will affect the organization.   In order to do this, they should be constantly updating their research methods to match the client to ensure that optimum listening is taking place.  This is ethical because it is taking into consideration more than just the organization.  It is guaranteeing a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and its public by making sure that all parties involved are benefitting.  This also has to do with the two-way symmetrical communication model that was discussed earlier in class.


pp. 4-5 What is “responsibility,” and what does it have to do with ethics?

Responsibility is weighing the consequences of an organization’s actions on a societal, organizational, professional, and individual level.  The mandate states that organizations have a societal responsibility to make sure that its practices are sustainable in their use of natural resources.  They also need to maintain good communication practices with their employees and adapt a standard by which to measure accountability.  They also need to communicate the needs of all stakeholders involved and to make sure that these needs are met in a responsible way.  This is related to ethics because the practices maintain the beneficial relationship for all stakeholders.  By stakeholders, they are not only meaning those who have profit shares in the company, they are meaning society members and others in the community that might be affected by the company’s actions.  This can also include the environment and a community’s natural resources.


p. 2 & appendix: Discuss: what are the elements of “organizational character,” and what do those have to do with ethics?

The elements of organizational character are values, leadership, and culture, and at the very core of those three values lay the organization’s mission.  The public relations practitioner’s role in this is to make sure that the organization is practicing the company’s core values.  Their role in leadership is to communicate its mission, model, character and to inspire support.  They also should make sure that the practices maintain cultural values.  In order to do all of this the company needs to have an ethical and responsible mission.  In order for a PR practitioner to maintain this, they should be conducting research among the publics to make sure that it is currently up-to-date with current cultural standards and values.



Codes of ethics

Global alliance


compare with PRSA: values; similar? different?


Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Integrity and Loyalty are the values voiced by the global alliance.  These are very similar to the values voiced by the PRSA.  The PRSA believes in Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, and Loyalty.  There are also other values that are in the PRSA that have been omitted by the Global Alliance.  Independence and fairness are omitted.  This does not necessarily mean that the Global Alliance does not believe in these, they are just not emphasized.  It is interesting how integrity is not stated in the PRSA code of ethics, yet it is in the Global Alliance.  They are placing more of an emphasis on professional responsibility.


Blog Post 9

(Sorry for the late post, I had the flu last week.)




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CO 350

Spring, 13



BP  9


The PRSA Code of Ethics

  • Go to PRSA website (Mycampus link), on the top bar:
    1. Click on “intelligence”
    2. Click on “ethics”
    3. Click on “code of ethics”
  • Print the code of ethics
  • Consider the case study of “ethical malpractice” that you are reporting on, and be prepared to answer the following:
  1. Which of the values do you think was violated in your malpractice case?

My agency violated the honesty section of the PRSA code of ethics when it called the opposing party “reptilian kitten eaters from another planet.”  Even though the statement was obviously false and meant to be a joke, it lacked a certain maturity and responsibility on shedding light on the truth of what their opponent actually is, and why they are opposed to them.  It also violated fairness.  It is not fair to shed that kind of vulgar, negative light on another individual.


  1. Which item in the code of provisions was violated in your malpractice case?

This client violated the provision of advancing the profession.  Immaturity and misrepresentation of a client or an opponent does not further the profession and decreases the appeal.


“Parkinson’s Critique of the PRSA code” (Mycampus file)


  1. What did Olasky claim was the purpose of an Ethics code?

Olasky claimed that the purpose of an ethics code was to establish public relations as a profession to outside viewers.  He claimed that the code shed a positive light on the ethics of the profession to these outside observers and therefore improved its images. 


  1. What did Wright claim was the purpose of an Ethics code?

Wright claimed that the purpose of the code of ethics was to make public relations look good to the outside world and to make the practitioners to feel good about their practice and the ethics of it.


  1. Why does Parkinson think that the PRSA has an Ethics code?

Parkinson that the PRSA has an ethics code because practitioners believe that observers have a negative view of the practices of public relations.  There is a code of ethics to improve the image to observers and to help the members feel better about their actions.


  1. Acccording to Parkinson, the PRSA code is about?



  1. According to Parkinson, “for one to be a member of the public relations profession one must have professional obligations that . . . .” what?

“supercede ethical obligations imposed on persons or publics outside the profession.”


  1. According to Parkinson, how are attorneys and public relations practitioners similar?

Both law and public relations are communication-based professions.  Both are advocates for a client.  Attorneys are hired to advocate for a client on trial or being a plaintiff and public relations practitioners are hired for advocating their client.  The attorneys hold court for a journey and the public relations practitioners are responsible for the court of the public opinion.


  1. In law, the “Cannons of Professional Responsibility” are
    1. A code of professional ethics


  1. According to Parkinson, what does the PRSA code pledge lack?

The PRSA code pledge lacks a description of the professional obligation to the client which it is advocating.  It also lacks a statement of enforcement for violation of the code of ethics.


  1. Explain the difference between “homo economicus” and “homo politicus”

Homo economicus is the belief that humans are driven by self-interested and will act in according to the way that will allow them to get the most benefits for themselves.  Homo politicus is the school of thought that believes that humans are driven by the desire to further the public good and will make decisions that will maximize the benefits for all. 


    1. How can “homo economicus”, in the end, work for the good of all

When people make decisions that will maximize their own self-interest, such as in voting, then the majority of people who vote for things that will maximize their own interests have voted for something that is good for the public interest.


    1. Which of the two does the legal profession practice?

Homo economicus.  The legal profession believes that when two attorneys are presenting information that maximizes the benefits for their client that the truth will be revealed and the jury will choose the client who is truthful.


    1. Which of the two is the PRSA code based on?

The PRSA code is based on homo politicus.  This thought has very little faith in the court of the public opinion and view public relations practitioners’ first responsibility to the public rather than the client.


    1. According to Parkinson, what are the weaknesses of “homo politicus,” especially as it relates to PR?

This school of thought asserts that there is one public with the best interest to act on.  This ignores the possibility that multiple publics with conflicting interests might have the similar right to be advocated.  There is also the chance of not knowing what the public interest is, and without knowing what the public interest is, there is a danger in practicing public relations.


  1. According to Parkinson, what is the legal dilemma of the PRSA code?

The lack of asserting a loyalty to the client over loyalty to the public interest puts the practitioner in a place where they are forced to tell the truth regarding their clients and violate any legal confidentiality agreement that they might agree to with the client.


CO 350

Spring, 13



BP 8

Approaches to PR Ethics: different philosophical approaches



Mycampus link: PR Ethics Resource Center

Under the link “definitions,” find and describe (in your own words) the following general ethical approaches: (can you tell the difference between them?)

  1. Teleology

This is also known as “utilitarianism.”  A question that can define teleology would be “What does the most good for the most people?”  This is a results-oriented ideology.  When applied to public relations, it shows that public relations should benefit the public and not just the company.

  1. Deontology

“Deontology” is also sometimes referred to as duty or humanitarian ethics.  This ideology takes the viewpoint that humans treat each other with respect and that any action that doesn’t treat humans with dignity as wrong.  That viewpoint is what establishes lying as an unethical practice in public relations.

  1. Situational

Situational ethics insists on making the best decision for each situation.  This viewpoint is most useful when trying to make a decision between obligation to two or more publics.


Under the link “theories,” answer the following: :

  1. In your own words, explain the theory of “responsible advocacy” . What organization uses this theory?

Those who follow the theory of responsible advocacy might have trouble dealing with the dilemma between the loyalty to a social conscience and loyalty to the company.  In the responsible advocacy theory, the practitioners’ first loyalty is to the company or organization and then to the publics.


  1. In your own words, explain the theory of “enlightened self interest.” Some would say that this makes ethics a means to the end of profit—do you agree?

The enlightened self-interest model states that businesses who practice ethically are well-respected by their publics and clients and therefore gain more profits versus other companies that do not follow ethical practices.


  1. In your own words, explain the “attorney-adversary model” – what does this theory think of the public interest?

The attorney-adversary model is a model that sees public relations as a similar field to law.  Public relations sees its practitioners as lawyers in the court of public opinion.  They feel as if they have no obligation to the public interests since there will always be an adverse opinion.


Mycampus file: Ethical issues for the 21st century

  1. Is “truth” typically considered to be a simple concept in PR practice?

No, it is not a simple concept.  There is always a dilemma between whether or not withholding information is a lack of truth, or whether selectively telling the truth is the whole truth.  Some schools say that being completely truthful with an organization’s public is the only way to operate while others say that discretion is a key element to public relations.


  1. Is lack of telling the truth always a result of simply withholding information? Explain

Not always, sometimes a lack of truth results from a misrepresentation of communication.  That means that some of the information might be presented in a way that means something different to the audience than what it means to the speaker.  This can often happen with cultural differences.


  1. What is the difference between “information” and “truth”?

Information is the set of facts and the truth is the presentation of these facts in a way that is clear and understandable to the public in such a way that the presentation does not confuse the public into thinking that the information is something that it is not.


  1. Is a PR professional always most responsible to society at large?

It is not always most responsible to society at large because PR professionals’ loyalties remain first to their company’s interest.  If the professional is following this logic, then there will be some points in which the practitioner will not be responsible to the society and publics.


  1. What has Kruckeberg argued for?

A universal ethics code for public relations

  1. What problem does Day see in universal ethics codes?

Communications practices might be different in one country to another.   For instance, in some countries it is perfectly ethical to bribe customs to receive a passport in a speedier manner.  The customs of one country might not be unethical to some and that could create a problem.

  1. Summarize what the article seems to be saying about dialogic communication

Dialogic communication is a manner in which there is two way communication between an organization and its publics and that information is used to further strategize the company’s operating plan with the publics in mind, and the communication is open and honest.


  1. True or false: according to Day and Dong, “true dialogue” is where the organization seeks to get the public to change through means of education and persuasion.