Ethics in PR

Ok so when I went to post this weeks blog I realised that I have infact unsuccessfully posted lastweeks blog.. Luckily I left it for safe keeping on my flashdrive!

So with a simple copy and paste, this week is a bit of a two-for -one kind of deal..


Elspeth Tilley

Ok seen as my very first blogging attempt was somewhat unsuccessful, I am hoping this next entry is a little better 🙂

This week’s reading revolved around the highly debated topic of ethics. Proposing the questions;

1)      What is considered to be ethical behaviour?

2)      How do you maintain ethical?

3)      What are ethical theories?

The concept and of ethical theories was something that was completely new to me. I have never really questioned ethics before; instead I simply believed ethical behaviour was a personal choice based on morals and values.

Little did I know the concept and acknowledgment of the difference between right and wrong often does not cut in the world of public relations.

Instead, PR practice identifies that ethics is much more complicated than meets the eye. It relies heavily on personal choice, but is often scrutinised by publics who have differing world views and expectations (Tilley, 2009).

My judgement of ethical behaviour is constituted by my cultural upbringing, my personal beliefs and values, and perceptions of what is right and wrong. However when working in practice, determining ethical behaviour is much more complex and anticipating the outcome is often unreliable and inconclusive.

This reading has opened my mind to complexity and dense role of public relations, whilst making me aware of the cliché ‘every action has an equal or opposite reaction’.


         –          Tilley, E. (2009). Public Relations Ethics. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.




Marianne D Sisson

The reading identified the multitude of different theoretical perspectives that contribute to the structure and layering of public relations practice.

The chapter acknowledged the contributing role of each theory and highlighted the complexity of public relations practice.

Systems theory (Sison, 2009) provides the dominant framework for public relations practitioners. It identifies public relations in context, noting the interactions organisations have within their internal and external environments.

Communication theories and developments allow public relations to transfer from theory to practice (Sison, 2009). It provides the connecting link and transference of meaning from an organisation to their publics and employees.

Whilst the excellence theory (Grunig, Grunig and Dozier, 2006. Cited in Sison, 2009) and rhetorical and interpretive theory adds more depth and complexity to the structure of public relations.

I found communication and the effectiveness of communication the underlying factor in each of the given theories.

Effective and strategic communication implements theories and contributes to practice. Without communication PR does not exist. Communication in all shapes and forms is the most important aspect of an organisation.

I personally believe that no single theory can explain or guide public relations practice. Each different theory or notion is significant to the success or failure of an organisation and therefore, a contingency theory approach to Public relations is the most important and comprehensive answer.


         –          Sison, M. D. (2009). Theoretical Contexts. In J. Chia & G. Synnott (eds), An introduction to public relations from theory to practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

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