Posted by: runningwinegirl | April 28, 2010

Great #TweenPR chat on PR & Ethics

This past Monday night was yet another great #TweenPR chat. We tackled the topic of PR and ethics within the agency world.  I’ve read plenty on what to do when a client or outside source puts you in an awkward situation by being unethical but what about your co-workers and managers? Let’s face it, it happens and what do you do when a manager or coworker you trusted breaks that trust in an effort to get ahead? We had an awesome crew of PR stars join us for what was a lively chat. I’m confident this is a topic we’ll come back to in the future. Highlights include:

Q1: What does being ethical mean to you as a PR pro at your workplace?
Honesty was the overall answer from everyone. We agreed that people are aware of what is right versus what is wrong. It’s a choice.  Many noted the challenges faced when management is unethical and how it can be hard to say no when that is the case. Other’s noted that if that was the case it was important to have a support from the team and address the issue together. Being ethical is about being honest. It’s not easy but it’s the right way to conduct business.

Star Tweets:
@AlexAizenberg: First and foremost to me it means honesty with yourself. You know what’s wrong and what’s right, we all do.
@jeffespo: Ethics means saying no even if it is something that is a huge MKTG win. Tact over $.
@elissapr: Ethics means representing the truth, at all times.

Q2: Do you believe that most PR pro’s understand what it means to be ethical in the workplace?
The general consensus is that PR pros understand ethics but not all choose to be ethical. Some noted it depended on who taught them at the entry level stage of the field. Others discussed the challenge of standing up for what’s right when it means going against a superior.

Star Tweets:
@P_C_M: I think that most people know and understand what is ethical. It’s a matter of acting ethically.
@jeffespo: Ethics is something tricky – It all depends on the entry-level experience.
@AlexAizenberg: @P_C_M totally true, but the empowerment is key to ethics…leading by example showing the right foot forward. Definitions are easy

Q3: Are outside factors influencing today’s PR pro to believe that unethical behavior like changing emails is ok?
Overall it was agreed that there are many factors influencing unethical behavior within an agency.  Many noted it was imported to stick to your morals, stay grounded and go down that right path. Again, honesty and knowing the right way to go came up and it takes a strong person to stand up for what they believe in. And when they do, then what? Overall people agreed it was sad to see what people are willing to do in an effort to get ahead.

Star Tweets:
@jeffespo: @alexaizenberg Staying grounded is key, screw the big head of SM & guru status
@marissamed: Also, doing business unethically will def catch up over time

Q4: How do you combat unethical practices within your internal PR team when they arise?
The opinion overall was that managers need to take the lead on setting a good example. I did raise the question of what happens if the manager is unethical and I think that’s one to come back to down the road. Not many had thought of that angle. It was clear that having an open, honest path for communication was key in keeping ethics in order. In the case of good ethics, it was felt those people should be well rewarded and everyone agreed actions needed to be taken to punish those caught being unethical.

Star Tweets:
@jeffespo: The manager needs to take the lead and lay down the law. If it is them, underlings need to band together.
@AlexAizenberg: In some cases all you can do is say no…ethics is more of the no than yes, so get used to that.
@elissapr: Set the example! When questionable practice comes into play, mentor your team re why you won’t go down that road.
@P_C_M: Set high standards, live up 2 it. Be open enough for your staff to seek advice on an ethical question. Own up to a mistake.

Q5: What processes need to be put in place or what do you see working to discourage unethical practices within an agency?
There were many answers of what to put in place but no one said anything about what they see working which I think speaks volumes. However, some great ideas came out of this question. Many felt regular conversations with team members discussing case studies or clear examples of ethical practices were important to preventing unethical behavior. Others felt it was all about the management and making sure managers were doing their job to lead by example.

Star Tweets:
@evanweisel: Hello Nickster – u can preach ethics until blue in the face – people r either ethical or not.
@AlexAizenberg: Most ‘impactful’ ethical decisions are made (for better or worse) at a higher level, so training at the top is needed
@P_C_M: Start with regular conversations/discussions about case studies that pose ethical questions.

This was a great, interactive conversation and there is still so much to say on this topic. We will look into continuing this chat down the road.

For those who missed this weeks #TweenPR chat, we hope you’ll join us next week – Monday at 9pm EST! We will be discussing Competition- Healthy vs Toxic.

If you have questions for @nicoleprexec or @suzielin for this conversation, please email them to: Also be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the chat!

Full transcript from 4/26/10 can be found here:

Thank you to all who participated in making this another great conversation!  We are excited for next week!

Suzie and Nicole


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