Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ethics


I just read "Can PR Salvage the Imus Brand? Should It?" by Jim Sinkinson at the Bulldog Reporter.

Sinkinson states three PR questions that need to be addressed in regards to defending a client's reputation when he/she messes up:

1. "What happens to your clients' reputation when they say stupid things in public?"
2. "Can you salvage their reputation even after they say stupid things?"
3. "Should PR help criminals, racists, sexists and other miscreants salvage their reputations?"

I would like to focus on the last of these three questions.

In a recent assignment for an ethics class we were asked to interview a professional in our field. We were asked to find out what types of ethical issues they face and how they deal with them. I interviewed Chris Thomas, owner and officer at The Intrepid Group (a Salt Lake City-based PR agency). On a side note, Chris was also the spokesperson for the Elizabeth Smart family during her abduction in 2002-2003.

He talked to me about potential clients sometimes coming to him asking him for help cleaning up a mess they'd gotten themselves into. Chris said he only takes on these types of clients if they were willing to admit their wrongs and are willing to make restitution for them. If they want him to be deceitful and make them look better than they really are, he will refuse their business.

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. One thing we can do as PR professionals is help to right wrongs as much as possible. We can facilitate the healing of those who have been injured. I believe we do have a moral responsibility to help those "repentant" individuals who have messed up. This said, however, surely there are some situations that would warrant not helping out on a PR front. Check out the Sinkinson's article for a more articulate discussion on this topic.

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