Is there such a thing as Public Relations Ethics

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Ethics can also be referred to as moral philosophy. It involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. There are certain values that the public relates to as ethics, this includes; discipline, honesty, openness, loyalty, respect, and integrity juts to mention a few.  There is need to ask is there such a thing as Public Relations Ethics? Current research shows the association of all unethical things to public relations, public relations ethics is criticized to totally contradict the meaning of the word ethical(Bowem). According to Mburu Winifred, in a case study involving the Firestone Tyre company in the year 2000 tyre recall, the company was found guilty of endangering the safety of its customers by putting company’s image and profit ahead of social responsibility. More than 300 car accidents had been directly caused by faulty tires, yet the company kept making assurances by use of public relations firms that there was nothing more important to them than the safety of their customers despite evidence of lawsuits filled against them as early as 1994. The company’s relations made an even worse blunder of blaming the customers saying the tires shredded and peeled due to negligence in maintenances and poor driving. Investigations found the company liable and three months into the investigations, they were forced to recall 6.5 million tires, 6 years since the filling of the first lawsuit. The company had succumbed to the glare of public scrutiny to admit that they were the problem(Mburu). What is practically referred to as ‘Public Relations Ethics’ is lying or spin-doctoring and even espionage. This damaged the company’s reputation and cost them $50 million in lawsuits. The withholding of information by public relations firms amounts to great malpractice, how long is it acceptable to hold useful information if it took Firestone 6 years and in the course causing loss of life and destroying livelihoods? Although it is the role of PR to preserve a company’s image, and withholding the truth is at times due to goodwill to conduct thorough investigations, too long causes inevitable speculation and loss of credibility. The public relations lobbyists are considered a threat to truthful journalism. Evidence points that practices by public relations are having deleterious impacts on democracy by allowing vested interests to deliberately deceive, obfuscate, and derail key issues that may affect the society, such as social, environmental and political challenges. Pressure of PR to represent a positive light of a company’s image results in telling lies, propaganda and inevitable manipulation of truth, this is in effort to handle crisis in a way to uphold the relationship between employers and the public. It is a lying game.

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