fallout from the resignation of New York Times Reporter
Jayson Blair is still reverberating through the media
industry. But ethical problems aren't limited to
journalists. The Internet, for example, with its vast
amount of information, makes it easier for both
journalists and public relations practitioners to
plagiarize and appropriate others' work. PR people can
in effect push a square peg into a round hole by finding
"fact" that achieves a desired outcome.
anonymity of the Internet also allows unethical PR
people to publish false information about clients - or
their clients' competitors - in chat rooms or via
Weblogs. Or even to publish true information while
posing as an objective expert.
application of ethical standards to public relations can
be best described as taking the "long view" to
any situation or objective. In today's world, companies
often emphasize the short term in financial reports.
Yet, while earnings are up this quarter and investors
are satisfied, what about five years from now?
questions should be asked when it comes to public
relations. You may see an opportunity to apply
ill-fitting statistics to strengthen a story pitch - but
what happens if someone takes a hard look at your
correlation? And what if reporters do their homework and
realize they are being had?
Internet discussion groups to sway opinion in an
unethical manner is an even worse transgression.
Legitimate use of idea-sharing technology is a wonderful
new tool for PR professionals. However, the temptation
to "plant ideas" through unethical means must
"whisper campaigns," anonymous Weblog entries,
viral marketing strategies based upon deceit, and other
unethical uses of the Internet are easy to undertake, so
will undoubtedly continue to be used by some
practitioners. But as was the case with Jayson Blair,
such tactics and lapses of ethics usually come back to