#PRConf15 guest blog four: PR and ethics

Written by Bruce Fraser FPRINZ, PRINZ President

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 21:  during the annual Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Conference on May 21, 2015 in Wellington, New Zealand.  (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)

Dr Elspeth Tilley, Associate Professor at Massey University (Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)

The London Underground, and other railway systems around the world, warn passengers to ‘mind the gap’, that space between the platform and the train.

Gaps of course can be awfully enticing and provide the subject for much discussion. ‘Mind the Gap’ is the theme for this year’s Public Relations Institute conference held in Wellington (May 21-22). Two key roles for the PR practitioner are to help clients identify the gaps and then to fill them with high quality communications research, planning, implementation and measurement.

Dr Elspeth Tilley, Associate Professor at Massey University, addressed the issue of ethical gaps for PR people and her ethics framework is worth considering for other ethical decision-making. Her ethics pyramid (based on Macnamara’s inputs, outputs, outcomes pyramid of 2002) was developed over many years of action research and takes people through four stages:

  • Research stakeholder ethics expectations – it’s not just about our ethical views but those of others likely to be involved and affected
  • Planning, agreed and shared objectives around virtues, rules and desirable outcomes.
  • Communicating using ethical tactics
  • Evaluate by reviewing the ethics outcomes.

The Ethics PyramidElspeth’s litmus test (or at least one of them) is to ask yourself, ‘what would mum think of me doing this?’ You can read more about her ethics pyramid here.

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