Possibly the most ironic fact about public relations is that sometimes it has a bad reputation. Due to the regrettable misuses of PR in the past, the ethical roots of public relations seem to be buried. However, the errors by past PR practitioners are not a valid representation of true public relations. Therefore, it is extremely important to highlight the key reasons that PR is trustworthy.
In the field of PR, it is highly common to work closely with journalists and other media gatekeepers. Public relations practitioners avoid the misrepresentation of the facts at all costs. It is not the job of a PR practitioner to create what doesn’t exist. Instead, their role is to share the newsworthy qualities of what is already there. It is extremely important to provide accurate information to the media, because what you choose to present accounts for your reputation as well as the journalist’s.
A PR practitioner should always avoid playing dirty, as fairness is a large part of building trust. It is never wise, or applauded, to negatively speak of a competitor. Instead, highlight your organization’s strengths, especially those that differentiate you from your competitors. In addition to being fair to the client you are representing, it is also important to be fair to the audience. A true PR practitioner should always be honest with the general public about the facts of the product/organization they are presenting to them. This is especially true in a time of crisis. If there is the need for the recall on a dangerous car part or if a food product has been mislabeled, the public will hear that information from a PR practitioner. Therefore, the facts presented need to be accurate to allow for the consumer’s safety and to maintain the organization’s reputation.
PR was created with an ethical code to ensure trustworthiness. Today, PR practitioners continue to conduct their work using ethical guidelines and the lessons learned from past PR mistakes. The overall goal in PR is to provide newsworthy and honest information to the public that showcases the integrity of the client, as well as the PR practitioner.