ERIC Number: ED244309
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Issues in the Ethics of Public Relations.
Hamilton, Peter K.
There is little doubt that the field of public relations needs to be concerned with both the ethical standards and behaviors of practitioners and the perceptions of these standards and actions held by clients, other communications professionals, and the public. What constitutes ethical standards and practices, however, continues to be debated among practitioners, who face four specific ethical problems. The first is truthfulness in public relations practice. Practitioners must attempt to be as well informed about their subject matter as possible prior to the release of their statements and should disclose any self-interest in the matter that they are communicating. The second dilemma is balancing the need for research with the right of privacy. Market audience research raises the issues of disclosing the purpose and source of the research to survey subjects and how the data will be used once collected. The third problem is persuasion as the goal of the practice. While department labels often mask persuasion as "information" or "education," persuasion is a legitimate goal of public relations, and campaigns that are merely "informative" or "educational" are indeed persuasive. The fourth problem is accountability of activity. Accountability, or measuring the effect of public relations campaigns, receives little attention from researchers, educators, practitioners, or even clients. But awareness, information levels, perceptions, attitudes, and support can and should be measured. Clients would perceive practitioners in a more positive ethical light if they received tangible assurance that the goals of the public relations campaign have been accomplished. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Market Research; Professional Ethics
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Speech Association (Chicago, IL, April 12-14, 1984).