Public relations ethics and industry links

Public relations (PR) involves communicating in public, which means your business will be subject to a range of ethical and legal considerations. Laws on defamation, privacy and copyright will apply to you when transmitting information or expressing your opinion.

Remember that every message you release influences consumers' opinions about you. Keep your public statements consistent with your brand and key messages. Try not to distract consumers from your message by commenting on unrelated or unworthy issues. Keep your PR focused and professional.

In some instances though, your PR efforts may be focused on crisis communications where you are managing your reputation because of an issue or situation that has arisen.  You may need to issue a media release or be interviewed by the media to provide a response to the situation to help protect your business image and clarify any facts.

Ethical PR principles

Make sure your PR reflects the ethics of your business and be clear on your PR principles. For example, choosing not to make negative comments about customers, competitors or suppliers will strengthen your credibility and reduce risks of damage to your reputation. Consider these ethical PR tips:

  • Stay honest and consistent with your messages. Consumers can easily spot double standards, distortions and hypocritical statements.
  • Never pay for media coverage. PR trades on independent, third-party reports, stories and information. Paying for good press breaches the standards of PR practice.
  • PR consultants offer services, information and advice that can help you position your business.
  • Don't fight your competitors in public. Keeping your criticisms and disagreements with your competitors and suppliers out of the spotlight shows good grace and keeps your PR professional.

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