What comes into your mind when the word ‘ethics’ show up? Morals? A standard of right and wrong? Ethics itself can be understood as a value system which is used to guide how we behave; a standard of determining what should be done and what should not be done. It is a part of our life and is continuously present in each and every facet of our life, personally and professionally.
We can all agree that full understanding and implementation of ethics is what is desirable to make us a good human being. However, just how crucial is it for a professional to be able to execute those ethical principles? Is it possible to always be ethical professionally in every situation every time?
PR functions more or less as the midway between the company and its public. How every decision is made will affect the company’s relationship with the public as well as its image and reputation. Thus the importance of PR function in the industry in general. PR, as we know, is concerned mainly about image and reputation of the organization as a whole, and its product or brand specifically. If it fails to function as expected, the company needs to bear the consequences.
Ethics in PR context basically works just as how it does in personal one. It is a standard and guideline about the proper PR practice, which must be adhered to in order to fulfil the professional responsibility. It deals with integrity, honesty, respect, fairness, and many more. In practice, being able to implement those ethical principles can lead to the public’s approval, which would eventually result in public trust. Once trust is gained, it will not be difficult to build and maintain relationship.
Responsibility is also a part of an ethical practice, not just for PR, but for business industry in general. Every professional is responsible for their decision making, and when any problem comes up, how a PR practitioner handles the matter and try to find the right solution while at the same time considering the ethical consideration is extremely important for the end result. Not only they have to weigh in the risks, advantages and disadvantages for the company, they also have to figure out how it will affect the public.
Having known the ethical code of conduct does not guarantee full implementation of it, considering how often ethical dilemma and conflict of responsibility come out playing a role in making decision making even trickier for practitioners. Nonetheless, how PR practitioners work in the professional industry and navigate the ethical code could determine how the industry in general fares with the ethical practice and define its own image on the eyes of the public.
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