CO 350: Contemporary Perspectives in Public Relations: Blog Post 8: Approaches to PR Ethics: Different Philosophical Appraches

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

Answer: Teleology is the idea that a decision is made looking ahead to the outcome of the situation; where there is a larger group of  people that benefit in the end, but not all parties receive equal benefits.  There is still a chance somebody will end up in the negative part of the decision. A decision must be made that will benefit the larger number of people.  For example, if a soldier must die to protect his entire unit, his unit will benefit, but he will lose his life.  This is an extreme example of teleology, but an example none-the-less.


  1. deontology

Answer: Deontology is defined as putting human rights as priority when making a decision in a situation.  Every human has basic human rights, and are entitled to these rights in any situation.  An example of deontology would be killing someone in self-defense; in a war, a person knows it is wrong to kill, but they do it in defense of their country or territory.  Another example would be knowing that stealing is wrong, but that I took your nice pen from you.  Deontology focuses on the basic human rights, and every human is entitled to these rights.


  1. situational

Answer: According to the website, situational ethics refers to the idea of leaving the decision making process separate from the possible results.  The situational concept looks only at the minimum of the decision making in order to make a choice and move on to handling the next part of the situation.  The situational context does not take in to consideration the ethics behind the condition.  The ethics are effected by the decision, and could be good or bad, but situational in a way does not focus on the ethical outcomes; it just focuses on the present dilemma of a decision.


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

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

Answer: The theory of “responsible advocacy” is the idea that public relations professionals must show concern and priority in being responsible for their clients.  The core responsibility of the public relations practitioner is being professionally responsible in overseeing the opinions and needs of your clients.  The “responsible advocacy” theory has primary and balanced responsibilities over the clients and the organization.  The organization that really utilizes this theory is the Public Relations Society of America, or PRSA, in their Code of Ethics, in their statement of values.


  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?

Answer: The “enlightened self interest” theory focuses on the idea of good ethical behavior to be competitive amongst other companies in order to drive profit in a positive and beneficial direction.  It seems this theory focuses on the client’s money in order to bring “good ethics” to just make more money.  This theory seems to help sly companies put on a positive attitude that follows basic ethical standards to get through and be rewarded with more money.  Therefore, this theory is used by organizations who are going after clients with large money piles.  In this situation, I would agree with ethics and it’s relation to the ending profit.  If you behave in a proper, ethical manner with clients, clients will give more money because of the organizations good ethics.  If a client is not given good ethical standards from the organization, the organization should not look for a whole lot of financial benefit. 


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

Answers: The “attorney-adversary” model is a model created by Barney and Black in 1994 stating public relations practitioners do not have any obligation to take into consideration the interests of the publics.  The idea of this theory is to focus on the view of the client, and leave the responsibility to somebody else to represent the counterpoint view of the public.  The idea of this theory is to compare attorneys of law to public relation practitioners, both working in some kind of “court”.  For attorneys, they work in the court of law, while public relations practitioners work in the court of public opinion.  Public interest seems to be thrown out the window in this theory, and practitioners do not consider the other side when trying to fight for a client.  This practice could result in damage within the society and the relationships with the public. 


Mycampus file: Ethical issues for the 21st century

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

Answer: The concept of “truth” in public relations practice is used only in circumstances where the public or other group of people believe there has been false or misleading information given to those out in the public.  Truth is based on the idea of factuality, and Therefore, the concept of truth is not a simple concept, as the public relations profession can make “truth” very complicated with statistics and other “factuality” to help support a “truth” practitioners are trying to portray in the intended message.  For example, with some of the malpractices that we are studying to present, the mad cow disease, several sources were using “truth” to complicate the intended message and to avoid a situation of something that will supposedly never happen.  Therefore, the concept of truth is not a simple concept, but a complicated concept as the public relations profession can have several definitions for terms such as truth.


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

Answer: The lack of telling the truth is not always a result of simply withholding information.  The lack of telling the truth could be a lack of information behind the situation.  Some situations need more information, but have to give a response to the publics in a short time period.  There might need to be more time spent on creating information.  The lack of telling truth could also be a spin on information that has the truth warped in a way that calls for asking for the real truth.  Thus, practitioners can keep giving skewed information to the publics in order to prevent telling the truth.  There are several reasons and situations were there is a lack of telling the truth.


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

Answer: The difference between “information” and “truth” is quite simple: information is factual information that is the foundation for something larger, such as the truth.  Information does not always have to present the truth, but a lot of information put together in a certain way can create a sense of the “truth” for a public receiving this information.  For example, if a public relations practitioner gave out wrong information, it would have to follow through with giving the correct information.  Incorrect and correct information are complete opposites with that are black and white terms.  In regards to the truth, a public relations practitioner does not have to give out the entire truth; with multiple responses that have a little bit more “truthful information.” The difference between information and truth is like the comparing the colors black and white, with the color gray. 


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

Answer: According to this article by Dong and Robins, the responsibility of a public relations professional in most instances usually exist with the client organization rather then the general society. In other words, public relations professional can be as specific as needed to focus on the needs of the client organization without breaking any ethical boundaries, or at least any ethical boundaries set between the professional and the organization.  As for society, this is where Dong and Robins talk about how a public relations professional has to be more careful when considering client and society together.  There are more ethical boundaries in place when there exists both the client and society in a situation.  In most cases, the client is much easier to deal with, rather than including society and the client.


  1. What has Kruckeberg argued for?

Answer: According to this article by Dong and Robins, Kruckeburg argued for a set of universal code of ethics for international public relations and business.  This code of ethics would have the ability to be slightly adjusted and used within in the cultural standards of individual countries.  In other words, Kruckeburg would take the most important and most common ethical standards and use them when conducting international business among clients in different countries. Some examples suggested by Kruckeberg of situations in other countries could be abstinence from alcohol when meeting with Muslim colleagues or contemplating “whether or not to pass a bribe with one’s passport to expedite receiving a visa.” With an existing international code of ethics, these decisions could be made with the correct ethical outcomes.


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

Answer: According to the article by Dong and Robins, Day proved the idea of the draft of the international code of ethics could reflect the individual values and norms portrayed in that person’s culture.  Therefore, it could be difficult for countries to try and adopt these ethical codes into their society because some of these ethics might not fit with their values, morals, beliefs and norms of society.  Therefore, a universal ethics code is not plausible as there would need to be a group of people from each country to put together a draft for a universal code of ethics; yet even in this set of ethics codes, there is still to much diversity to have a global and functioning code of ethics.


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

Answer: The article seems to talk about dialogic communication as the interaction and engagement of a company or organization with its public in order to create a positive relationship between the publics and the organizations.  Within dialogue communication, organizations need to become more open to change and compromise in order to practice the idea of dialogic communication. The article also states that an organization must take the time to develop ethical standards, which take into consideration the norms of society, and engage in dialogue with the publics using those ethical standards.  The general overview of dialogue communication is the idea of including key organizational publics in every part of communication of the organization. 


  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.

Answer: False, according to Day and Dong “true dialogue” is the idea where the public seeks for the organization to be open through compromise and change in order to be successful in the persuasion and education of members of society. 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s