Understanding the ethical side of PR

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Here are Rebecca’s thoughts on her final session for the CIPR Foundation Award in Public Relations.

This half-day was split into studying the ethical side of PR as a group, followed by tutorials with the tutors to go over our plans for our assignments individually.

A  study done by Cone Communications revealed these findings about how customers feel about a companies behaviour –

91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues; 84% say they seek out responsible products whenever possible; 90% would boycott a company if they learned of irresponsible or deceptive business practices.

This third session was run by Debbie Sharratt and Laurel Hetherington, who as well as being nesma tutors are also both on the CIPR regional committee. The day had three primary objectives: understanding how corporate social responsibility can underpin your overall PR activity, explaining the role of ethics in PR and how to get ready for the assignment submission, which is due at the end of the month.

The morning began with a look at the different levels of corporate social responsibility, to decide which bracket our organisation falls into. These ranged from the lowest level, where you merely observe the law and pay your taxes to the organisational and societal levels, where you are actively minimising adverse effects or even maximising the positive impacts your business can have on broader society.

Not only can being socially responsible ensure that your company can enhance its reputation and provide a competitive advantage, but it can also attract quality partners and employees. This can all be achieved by being as transparent as possible and by avoiding conflicts of interest when the creating content, as well as respecting confidentiality and ensuring that you are getting any quotes you need ethically.

To ensure that we had all grasped what is and what is not ethical practice, we were given some case studies to discuss as a group. We were all in agreement that posting fake customer comments on social media platforms is unethical, as is releasing important recall information on the same day as a significant piece of news, such as royal announcements, preventing the recall from being well publicised.

The session concluded with the opportunity to go through our assignments with the tutors individually, which included discussing the news story that we had chosen to use and which types of content we would like to produce surrounding that story. This left us all feeling much more relaxed about the assessment process.

nesma is an accredited CIPR study centre, offering 5 different CIPR qualifications, including a Specialist Certificate in Internal Communications and a Specialist Diploma in Crisis Communications.

You too can become #CIPRQualified when our new term begins this autumn.

Rebecca Hutchinson
A PR & Marketing Intern with nesma on the Santander University SME internship programme.

Find out how day 1 and day 2 of the course went for Rebecca.