Throughout my career I’ve been subjected to a good deal of ribbing and teasing, some of it not too good natured, that being in PR means I tell lies for living. I actually don’t find it too funny but know that people’s understanding of public relations comes from what they see from political spin docters and comedy shows like AbFab and Absolute Power. Fair enough.
But now we have proof, as if it’s necessary, that public relations professionals are ethical thinkers and demonstrate similar moral development to journalists and nurses. In fact, we come out ahead of some medical professionals and general business professionals.
The research, conducted by two of the Page Center’s Johnson Legacy Scholars, Renita Coleman and Lee Wilkins, is the first to measure empirically the moral development of working public relations professionals. The paper, “The Moral Development of Public Relations Practitioners: A Comparison with Other Professions and Influences on Higher Quality Ethical Reasoning,” appeared in the July 2009 Journal of Public Relations Research.
So there you have it. We are as ethical as journalists and practicing physicians. I never had any doubt; the professionals I’ve worked with over the years have been pretty consistent in terms of professional integrity, work ethic and focus on truth and transparency.
But, convincing people of this is an uphill battle. Just this afternoon I interviewed a recent journalism graduate for a position at Strive PR and he told me his professors called working in PR ‘going over to the dark side’. When media professionals are being taught at university to believe this, how can we expect to bring the industry along in their view of the modern PR profession?
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