Draft presentation – p.whalen 6/17/11 - PRSSA

Report
Staying Ethical on the Job
PRSSA National Conference, Philadelphia
October 27, 2013
Joseph Cohen, APR
Deborah Silverman, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA
Francis McDonald, Ph.D., APR
Amy Bishop
Hanae Mason
The Importance of Ethics
Joseph Cohen, APR
PRSA Chair-Elect
Senior Vice President, The MWW Group
Ethics in the News and
The PRSA Code of Ethics
Dr. Deborah Silverman, APR, Fellow PRSA
Chair, PRSA Board of Ethics & Professional Standards
Associate Professor of Communication, SUNY Buffalo State
Ethical Challenges on the Job
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Research findings: Newer employees more
susceptible to ethical dilemmas at work
Ethics Resource Center report – “Generational
Differences in Workplace Ethics”
Report looked at four generational groups:
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Millennials (born 1981-2000)
Gen X (born 1965-1980)
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
Traditionalists (born 1925-1945)
Ethical Challenges on the Job
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ERC report:
The younger the worker, the more likely
he/she is to feel pressure, observe
misconduct, and experience retaliation for
reporting misconduct.
Ethical Challenges on the Job
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ERC survey findings:
Nearly half of Millennials (49%) observed
workplace misconduct
 Pressure to break the rules is significantly
higher for the youngest workers
 The youngest workers (29%) were
significantly more likely to experience
retaliation than Gen X’ers (21%) and Baby
Boomers (18%)
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Ethics Cases Involving PR
Interns & New Professionals
1. Interns Post Fake Reviews
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Interns at Reverb Communications wrote
glowing reviews of PR client’s games in Apple
iTunes Store
Interns didn’t disclose they were being paid to
do so
Federal Trade Commission filed charges against
Reverb
“Charges Settled Over Fake Reviews on iTunes”
More on Fake Online Reviews
Another case, but no certainty about interns or
new pros being involved:
 Legacy Learning Systems – fined $250,000 by
Federal Trade Commission for not disclosing
payment for online reviews
 Legacy – produced “Learn and Master Guitar”
DVD series
 $250K Reasons to Pay Attention to the ‘Blogger
Rules’ (PRSAY post)
Still More…
More instances of fake reviews (not necessarily by
interns or new pros):
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Fake Yelp reviews:
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20% of Yelp Reviews are Fake
(MarketWatch.com story)
Fake reviews on TripAdvisor.com
TripAdvisor Dealt Another Blow: Hotel PR
Exec Admits to Posting 100 Fake Reviews
Online
 TripAdvisor, American Express Partnership
Helps Authenticate Reviews (Boston.com)

Still More…
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New York State Attorney General – fined
19 businesses over $350,000 for phony
online reviews (September 2013)
FTC Guidelines on Social Media
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2009: Federal Trade Commission issued
guidelines on use of social media for
product endorsement

“The New FTC Guidelines: Cutting through
the Clutter” (PRSAY post)
FTC Guidelines on Social Media
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2013: New FTC guide on social media
disclosures

What Marketers Need to Know about the
New FTC Disclosures
2. Fake Comments on a News
Website
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A former Dallas TV anchor-turned-PR
professional posted blog comments under
fake names on the Dallas Morning News
website

He represented a condominium accused
of producing glare on the nearby Nasher
Sculpture Center
2. Fake Comments on a News
Website

The newspaper noticed the blog posts all
resembled arguments made by the condo
developer

The PR professional resigned from the
assignment and his own PR firm

“Fake Comments Muddy a Debate in
Dallas” (The New York Times)
3. Young PR Pro Poses as Reporter
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Young employee of Walmart’s Los
Angeles PR firm posed as reporter at
event
It was staged by a labor union trying to
organize Walmart’s warehouse employees
The PR firm fired the employee
Walmart subsequently fired the PR firm
“Walmart Cuts Ties with Public Relations
Firm Over Impersonation” (Los Angeles
Times)
How can PR pros help establish trust
for an organization or a brand?
The Public Relations Society of America
Code of Ethics
A standard for ethical behavior and trust building
PRSA Code of Ethics
Values
Provisions
Fairness
Independence
Advocacy
Honesty
Expertise
Loyalty
Free Flow of Information
Competition
Disclosure of Information
Safeguarding Confidences
Conflicts of Interest
Enhancing the Profession
PRSA Code of Ethics

Adopted by PRSA in 1950 to:
 Provide behavioral guidelines for members
 Educate management on PR standards
 Distinguish PR professionals from those who
use the title but give profession a bad name
PRSA Code of Ethics

In 2000, PRSA adopted a new code of ethics for
its members

New focus: on universal professional values that
inspire ethical behavior and performance

These values are the foundation of the
provisions in the code
PRSA Professional Values
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Advocacy – PR professionals serve the public
interest by acting as responsible advocates for
clients and providing a voice in the marketplace
of ideas

Honesty – PR professionals adhere to the
highest standards of accuracy and truth
PRSA Professional Values

Expertise – PR professionals have specialized
knowledge and skill, maintained through
continued professional development

Independence – PR professionals provide
objective advice to those they represent and are
accountable for their actions
PRSA Professional Values

Loyalty – PR professionals are loyal to their
clients but continue to serve the public interest

Fairness – PR professionals deal fairly with all
publics
PRSA Code Provisions

Free Flow of Information – Protecting and
advancing the free flow of accurate and truthful
information is essential to serving the public
interest.
 It contributes to informed decision-making in a
democratic society
PRSA Code Provisions

Competition – Promoting healthy and fair
competition among professionals preserves an
ethical climate while fostering a robust business
environment.
PRSA Code Provisions

Disclosure of Information – Open
communication fosters informed decisionmaking in a democratic society.
PRSA Code Provisions

Safeguarding Confidences – Client trust
requires appropriate protection of confidential
and private information.
PRSA Code Provisions

Conflicts of Interest – Avoiding real, potential
or perceived conflicts of interest builds the trust
of clients, employers, and publics.
PRSA Code Provisions

Enhancing the Profession – Public relations
professionals work constantly to strengthen the
public’s trust in the profession
Professional Standards Advisory—
Unpaid Internships
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In addition to its Code of Ethics, PRSA has
created Professional Standards Advisories on
specific ethics topics
One of these pertains to unpaid internships
“Ethical Use of Interns” (PSA-17)
More lawsuits being filed by unpaid interns –
e.g., “’Charlie Rose’ Show Agrees to Pay Up to
$250,000 to Settle Interns’ Lawsuit” (Media
Decoder.com)
A Personal Code of Ethics
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“Getting a Code of Your Own” by BEPS co-chair
James Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA
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Email: [email protected]
Knowing your own code helps to explain the
components of your ethical personality:
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Integrity
Trustworthiness
Selflessness
Verbal Vision
Candor
A Personal Code of Ethics
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How to develop your own code? Write down:
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What do you believe in?
Who are you?
What are your personal limits?
What are your aspirations?
What are your principles?
What are your virtues?
What are your daily intentions as a communicator,
member of society, family member?
Where are you headed in life?
Ethical Decision-Making Process
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Identify the ethical issue and/or conflict.
Determine internal/external factors likely to influence
your decision (financial, contractual, legal issues, etc.).
Choose key PRSA values that apply.
Consider parties who will be affected by your decision
and your obligation to each one.
Select ethical principles to guide your decision making
(see PRSA code provisions).
Make a decision.
Real-Life Ethical Dilemmas
Amy Bishop
Hanae Mason
Digital PR Specialist
DigitalRelevance
Assistant Manager
The Wardrobe Boutique
Career Wardrobe
Case Study for Discussion
“Gaming the Online System”
Discussant: Dr. Francis McDonald, APR
Former Member, PRSA Board of Ethics & Professional Standards
Assistant Dean for Administration
The Scripps Howard School for Journalism and Communications,
Hampton University
Gaming the Online System Case

You are a senior in college, majoring in public relations, and you are
excited because you just landed your dream internship at a local
public relations agency. It is a paid internship, and you also are
earning academic credit.

The agency’s client list includes several companies that
manufacture video games, and you have been assigned to assist on
one of those accounts. You really want to impress your client,
because you hope to obtain an entry-level PR job at the video game
company after graduation.
Gaming the Online System Case

As an intern, your responsibilities initially include attending meetings
between the PR agency and the client, writing fact sheets and media
advisories for the client’s latest game, updating the media list, and
assisting with an upcoming special event to promote the latest game
in local stores.

One day, however, your internship supervisor at the agency makes
another request: he wants you to write and post positive reviews of
the new game in the Apple iTunes store, without disclosing that you
are being paid to do so. He asks you not to mention these reviews to
anyone else at the PR agency. You remember from one of your PR
classes that the Federal Trade Commission issued guidelines on
that topic a few years ago, but you desperately want a job with that
video game company after you finish college.
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What should you do?
Gaming the Online System Case
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1. Identify the ethical issues and/or conflicts.
2. Determine internal/external factors likely to influence your
decision.
3. Choose key values and provisions from the PRSA Code of
Ethics that apply.
4. Consider parties who will be affected by your decision and
evaluate the public relations professional’s obligation to each
one.
5. Select ethical principles to guide your decision-making.
6. Make a decision and offer a brief rationale.
Case prepared by Dr. Deborah Silverman, APR, Fellow PRSA, and Dr.
Francis McDonald, APR
For more information about the
PRSA Code of Ethics go to:
http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/
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Code of Ethics (English & Spanish versions)
Professional Standards Advisories
Ethics scenarios with discussion (answer) keys
Ethics quiz
“Best practices” PRSA chapter ethics programs
How to report questionable behavior (email to
[email protected])
Questions? Contact Us!
Joseph Cohen, APR
Senior Vice President
The MWW Group
New York, NY
[email protected]
Dr. Deborah Silverman, APR, Fellow PRSA
Associate Professor of Communication
SUNY Buffalo State
Buffalo, NY
[email protected]
Dr. Francis McDonald, APR
Amy Bishop
Assistant Dean
Digital PR Specialist
The Scripps Howard School
DigitalRelevance
for Journalism & Communications Indianapolis, IN
Hampton University
[email protected]
Hampton, VA
[email protected]
Hanae Mason
Assistant Manager
The Wardrobe Boutique
Career Wardrobe
Philadelphia, PA
[email protected]

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