Public Relations ethics; fact or fiction?

Ethics is considered to be one of the most essential pieces which makes up the public relations pie; however a definition of what ethics actually means is not quite as clear. Elspeth Tilley (2009) states that ‘ethics is about standards of behaviour, specifically concern for ‘good’ behaviour and consideration of how our behaviour as an individual or organisation, affects the wellbeing of others or society as a whole’.

If someone acts in an unethical manner does this make him or her a bad person? Not necessarily, commonly a lack of lack of knowledge and unawareness of practical frameworks and theories contribute to unethical decision making (Tilley, 2010).  ‘Public relations should be able to improve the ethics and social responsibility of organizational behaviours’ (Grunig, 2006 as cited in Chia & Synnott, 2009).

Nevertheless, not everyone holds the same ideals as to what is right and wrong, often the two can become blurred and this is when ethical dilemmas occur. Is it realistic for a person to be able to make a decision that everyone agrees is entirely ethical?

The link below offers an article and video about when public relations ethics aren’t considered, providing a nasty consequence to the hidden truths. It proves to show that not following necessary good practice, leads to mounting unethical behaviour.


Are your ethics pointing you in the right direction?



Tilley, E. (2009). Public Relations Ethics. In J. Chia & G. Synnott, An Introduction to Public Relations: From Theory to Practice (pp. 90-123). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

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