ETHICS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS NOTES

ETHICS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

SUBTOPICS:

  • Definition of ethics
  • Code of consultancy practice
  • Code of professional conduct
  • Functions of public relations department
  • Functions of public relations officer
  • Qualities of public relation officer

 

Definition of Ethics

Ethics is code of acceptable behavior that facilitates good relationship between an individual and the general public(s)

Ethics facilitating building of long term relationship, building respect, trust etc

GENERAL CODE OF CONDUCT EXPECTED FROM EMPLOYER

  1. Provide good working condition to employees.
  2. Should encourage democratic leadership in order to minimize misunderstandings within the organization.
  3. Should be able to carry fair promotions without discrimination e.g. based on work experience, education level etc
  4. Should be able to promote team work within organization hence working towards achieving common goal.
  5. Paying employees on time in order to boost their work morale.
  6. Carrying the outlined duties with high integrity i.e. must be honest and transparent therefore not engaging in corruption.

GENERAL CODE OF CONDUCT FROM PR STAFF

  1. Only correct information should be published or broadcasted based on evidence and from reliable sources.
  2. The personnel carrying PR activities should ensure they meet legal requirements.
  3. The information they pass should not injure reputation of another person e.g. giving wrong information that might tarnish personality of an individual.
  4. They should not publish or disclose confidential information unless when authorized law e.g. revealing source of intelligence information which may cause insecurity to them.
  5. High reputation should be portrayed while carrying the duties in order to boost corporate image of the organization they are working under gain public confidence and trust
  6. Should not misuse information regarding his/her employer for their own self benefit financially or other gains.
  7. Respect other employees in order to facilitate togetherness and team building so as to work towards achievement of common goal.

 

PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICE

PR can be practiced in 2 ways:

  1. Internal responsibility
  2. External responsibility

Some organizations prefer:

  1. In house PR departments
  2. External PR consultancies
  3. Hybrid: combination of In house PR dept. and External PR consultancies

INTERNAL PR DEPARTMENTS

  • Refers to department within an organization that is in charge of PR function
  • Headed PR Manager who ideally reports to CEO

 

Advantages of In House PR Departments

  1. Offers full time services: Staff work for required time; Work as required contract
  2. Enables the creation and sustenance of good lines of communication: PR staff know other staff, They know the organization well, Can respond appropriately to challenges, Staff intimately involved with the firm
  3. Provide continuity: PR staff get valuable experience and are better placed to attain goals such as handling the media. Can also handle people well providing info on organization
  4. Value for money: PR staff are economical and do what consultants offer at no extra-cost thus there is minimal waste company resources
  5. Immediacy: PR staff got immediate access to the firm and to decision makers in firm thus able to address problems proactively and handle challenges on time
  6. Familiarity: PR staff are familiar with operations therefore can give better services as they have a lot of experience about the firm
  7. Quick service: PR staff can respond quickly to unfolding challenges and are readily available on demand and can respond to problems on their feet

 

NB/The above advantages depend on strategic position of the PR department in the organization

  • In house PR better felt when PR department is strategically positioned
  • PR Manager must have access to CEO

 

Disadvantages of In House PR Department

  1. Lack of impartiality: PR staff may lose objectivity because of: Fear of being fired, too much loyalty, Pressure from management, May not be critical as expected, may compromise professional integrity to keep job
  2. Narrow range of experience: PR staff may have limited span of PR activities to do and may have narrow experience in a few PR activities
  3. Lack of training: Some PR staff lack professional training and some have not been to PR schools. Most are journalists and may lack integral PR know how.
  4. In subordination of PR department: PR may be put under marketing department thus function may not be prioritized making PR subservient to other managers and departments
  5. Misusing PR staff: Some CEOs use PR as personal assistants because they don’t know what PR is and what it can do the organization

 

NB/• PR can only be effective if CEO and management know its strategic role in management

  • PR staff must have clearly spelt out responsibilities
  • Lines of communication must be clearly defined

 

EXTERNAL PR CONSULTANCY

  • PR consultancy is not an agency
  • Refers to professionally run businesses offering PR services to clients
  • Run experienced professionals
  • Knowledgeable and skilled PR practitioners

 

Reasons for Appointing External PR Consultancies

  1. Lack of finances for in house PR
  2. Need for management counseling
  3. Lack of time PR staff
  4. Execution of complex PR programs
  5. Provide specialized services

Advantages of External PR Consultancies

  1. Objectivity – offers unbiased services
  2. Have excellent media contacts
  3. Strategically positioned to service diverse clientele. Gives them an edge over in house staff
  4. Have access and knowledge of service providers
  5. Have geographical scope of operations as they are located in various cities and continents
  6. They have ability to reinforce internal staff

Disadvantages of External PR Consultancies

  1. Clients get only what they pay for
  2. Lack of intimacy
  3. Divided loyalties
  4. Lack of specialized knowledge
  5. Use of inexperienced interns
  6. May face internal opposition and hostility in house staff

Criteria of Hiring External PR Consultancies

  1. Scrutinize expertise and experience base
  2. Implementing consultant to be present during negotiations and presentations
  3. Understand your needs as a firm
  4. Understand the capability of the consultancy
  5. Subject it to tendering
  6. Avoid those servicing your rivals
  7. Scrutinize budgets
  8. Talk about retainer

Internal or external PR department may be small or large depending on;

  1. The size of the organization
  2. The value placed on PR management.
  3. Financial position of the organization
  4. The nature of the activities undertaken organization.

PUBLIC RELATION MANAGER

Refers to the chief executive officer who manages the company public relations

DUTIES/RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. To advice management on communication problems, solution and techniques.
  2. To inform the public on organization policies and activities
  3. To monitor outside opinions (public opinion) about the organization and give this to management
  4. To establish and maintain a good image of the organization.
  5. To set targets or define objectives for PR operation
  6. To estimate the budgets, working hours and other resources that need to be costed
  7. Selecting the appropriate media to use while communicating with customers/communicating organization activities.
  8. Decides feasibility of undertaking set objectives
  9. Decides priorities

 

WAYS A PR MANAGER CAN BOOST HIS/HER SUCCESS

  1. PR manager must keep top management well briefed for interviews, speeches, representing the organization in public occasion and updating them on day to day changes.
  2. PR manager should create external lines of communication in order to achieve feedback.
  3. Should be competent in order to carry work with high efficiency.
  4. Setting internal lines of communication so that information can be obtained at all times in all sections of the organization.
  5. Creating external lines of communication in order to diversify source of information.

 

ADVANTAGES OF PR MANAGER WITHIN ORGANIZATION (IN-HOUSE PR MANAGER)

  1. PR manager is more familiar with the organization than the PR manager from consultancy firm
  2. PR manager can easily establish lines of communication inside the organization hence getting reliable information.
  3. PR manager is in a better position to give management day to day advice.
  4. The PR manager is readily available hence can make quick decision in case of emergency
  5. The manager may be able to consult from other organizations at a free cost.
  6. It promotes corporate identity of the organization.

DISADVANTAGES OF PR MANAGER WITHIN ORGANIZATION (IN-HOUSE PR MANAGER)

  1. PR manager may be too close to organization workers hence portraying discrimination and being biased in decision making.
  2. In small and disorganized organizations, PR manager may lack job specification hence making it hard to achieve required tusks.
  3. PR manager may lack sufficient executive status to enjoy the respect of management e.g. if his /her subordinates have higher education level than him /her.
  4. If the PR manager is not properly trained and qualified he /she could contribute to downfall of organization.
  5. May lack skilled personnel’s within the department and limited work experience due to lack of exposure in various activities.

A TO Z OF PR DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

  1. Write and distribute news, photographs
  2. Compile press lists-updates
  3. Organize press conferences, receptions
  4. Maintain a media information service
  5. Arrange interviews with media
  6. Briefing photographers and maintaining a picture library
  7. Editing publications
  8. Commissioning audio-visual materials
  9. Commissioning and organizing PR exhibitions
  10. Commissioning and maintaining forms of corporate identity and house styling such as logos, color schemes, typography
  11. Handling PR sponsorships
  12. Organizing facility tours
  13. Attending appropriate meeting like board meetings
  14. Attending conferences
  15. Representation of company at trade association meetings and other external meetings
  16. Liaison with PR consultancies
  17. Training PR staff
  18. Commissioning opinion polls
  19. Supervising advertising PR department
  20. Liaison with politicians and civil servants
  21. Arranging visits royalty or VIPs
  22. Handling official launches
  23. Celebrating centenaries, Jubilees, special awards
  24. Organize feedback of press cuttings, radio, TV and monitoring
  25. Analysis of PR feedback and evaluation of projects.
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