Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I’ve long been a proponent for ensuring that those who practice public relations need a sound ethical basis. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to make a decision that only you can make, whether it’s for a client or for a company and its employees. And it will involve this basic question: What do we owe strangers by virtue of our shared humanity? That’s the question Kwame Anthony Appiah asked in Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a world of strangers.
My premise is this: Whether you’re an adherent of a communitarian or utilitarian perspective, as a PR practitioner, be smart enough to know the values you follow before the proverbial s*** hits the fan.
Recently, I accepted a position with a company to direct its communications. It’s an exciting time for this firm internally, as the company is undergoing major restructuring. Change always brings possibilities – both good and bad. Almost immediately, however, I understood a culture that was devoid of fact checking and one that assumed “fudging” – a term, when I hear it, that always gives me pause and tells me a whole heckuva lot about the person who used it. Now “fudging” can possess varying degrees of meaning – but it always involves untruth.
In addition to hearing this term, I heard other statements from employees that were worrisome to me. Here’s a list that should raise red flags for any PR practitioner:
• This is the way we do it here—we’re [insert name of department].
• If we write it that way, then that’s the way it is.
• You’re new to this industry; we don’t ever tell our true [insert noun—numbers, facts, situation].
• I don’t care if you think this is wrong. Do what I told you to do.
• You have been told to get this done and to get it done by this date. Do you have a problem with that?
• Are you refusing to do the job for which we hired you?
Even before it happened, I knew that my time with this company would be short. Sure enough, within a few weeks, I was asked to publish a press release that had material errors in it. I knew the information to be incorrect. And, in my judgment, the errors were not of the “fudging” kind. They were substantial. And in that moment, the moment that I call the “last PR stand,” I had a decision to make.
In military terms, a “last stand,” occurs in one of two ways. One situation calls for the defending force to retreat, which leads to immediate defeat, usually due to the surrounding geography or shortage of supplies or support. The other situation arises when the defending force are ordered to defend their positions. Thus, retreat is not possible without being considered a deserter.
In my case, I knew I had no support for refusing to include incorrect statements. In fact, I was told to issue the release with the incorrect statements. I opted to retreat – resign – thus deserting. I turned in my security badge and my electronic gadgetry without the slightest thought of surrendering to the edict.
I’m now happily unemployed. I say this not because I am pleased about being unemployed – I’m not, and Lord knows in this economy, I could use the income – but because I know the worth that integrity brings to a PR professional and, by extension, to a client or a company that demands it.
If you’re in the PR or communications field, take the time to understand or to review your ethics perspective. In today’s troubling environment, you’re better served to be prepared.
Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a world of stranger :: Kwame Anthony Appiah
Contemporary Media Ethics :: A practical guide for students, scholars and professionals :: Bill Hornaday and Mitchell Land (editors)
Public Relations Society of America :: Ethics resources
Friday, May 15, 2009
As PR professionals, strategy underscores all our methodologies, so why would social media be any different? If you’ve been waiting to take the social media plunge, now’s the perfect opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts, best practices, strategy, planning and measurement.
Below are the presentation slideshows from the day:
The GFW PRSA professional development workshop was led by Beth Harte (@bethharte), Twitter maven and marketing and communications professional, with help from our own Richie Escovedo (@vedo) and Terry Morawski (@morate).
Plus, a post-workshop interview with Beth Harte:
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Graciously, Beth is game for a tweet-up on May 12! Come join us!
Where: Sherlock's Pub in Arlington; 254 Lincoln Square Center
When: 6:30-8:30pmPlease RSVP for the tweet-up via Facebook or in the comments on Lauren Vargas' event post.
(Note: a tweet-up is just another name for meet-up for those non-Twitter types.)
Don't forget to also RSVP for Greater Fort Worth Professional Development Day and Luncheon.
Everyone’s doing it: Facebook and Twitter, that is. Does that mean it’s right for you? As PR professionals, strategy underscores all our methodologies, so why would social media be any different? If you’ve been waiting to take the social media plunge, now’s the perfect opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts, best practices, strategy, how to get started and how to do it well. And, if you’re already involved, we’ll help you learn how to do it better, more effectively and efficiently.
These topics and more will be center stage at the May 13th GFW PRSA professional development workshop to be led by Beth Harte (@bethharte), Twitter maven and marketing and communications professional, with help from our own Richie Escovedo (@vedo) and Terry Morawski (@morate).
Following the morning workshop, after we’ve learned who, what, where, when and why of social media, we’ll learn how to measure our efforts during a social media ROI seminar.
About Harte Marketing & Communications | Harte Marketing & Communications, located in the Philadelphia suburbs, specializes in marketing, communications and social media programs–from strategic planning to execution of branding, public relations, analyst relations, product marketing, international marketing, lead generation (direct mail, e-mail marketing), Web site management and SEO/SEM.
About Beth Harte | As principal of Harte Marketing & Communications, Beth offers nearly 15 years of experience in strategic planning, branding, public relations, analyst relations, product marketing, international marketing, business development, lead generation (direct mail, e-mail marketing), Web site management, SEO/SEM-in short, all things marketing and communications. And she’s applied that experience for a range of companies-from startups and SMBs to mid-market and Fortune 500 companies. When Beth began her marketing and communications career, companies barely had e-mail. Having experienced Web 1.0 first hand, she also enjoyed the mad dash toward integrated marketing communications and SEO/SEM. Today, she enjoys the challenge of helping clients use marketing, communications and social media to take their marketing–and their businesses–to the next level of customer engagement.
In addition to running Harte Marketing & Communications, Beth speaks at industry conferences and event and serves as adjunct professor at Immaculata University where she’s taught Marketing in a Global Economy, Marketing Principles and Practices, Introduction to Public Relations, Writing for Public Relations & Social Media and Issues in E-Commerce. Beth will also be teaching Community, Government and Global Relations and Writing for PR & Social Media in the new Master’s in Applied Communication program.
A firm believer in “walking the walk to talk the talk,” Beth shares tips, opinions and observations on her blog, The Harte of Marketing. She also writes for Marketing Profs’ Daily Fix Blog and Search Engine Guide. Beth holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Chestnut Hill College and a Master of Science in International Marketing from Saint Joseph’s University.