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Old Monday, August 19, 2013
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Default Jounalism notes 12

This ends our quick lesson on ethical systems. Let's turn now to knowledge and truth.
PR's "Advocate Trilemma"
We public relations professionals have a problem. It's something known as "The Advocate Trilemma." As counselors, we need to know everything about a company, organization or cause. This is indisputable. We cannot fulfil our responsibilities without this knowledge. And yet, because of our loyalties to our employer or client, we must keep it confidential. No matter how open and candid we wish to be, there are some things (e.g., trade secrets, business strategies, employee information) that must be kept in confidence. And yet, as the conscience of business, as the company's liaison with the public, we have a duty and obligation to reveal it to the public, even if we could lose our job or hurt others -- including our own dear family members -- in the process. Which brings us to a defining question for public relations practitioners: "What is the threshold beyond which an advocate may not ethically go? Is there some point at which we can say "It is ethical for me to do this one thing, but if I change this one particular element a mere 0.01%, then it becomes ethical"? Where then is the line beyond which public relations counselors are morally obligated to sacrifice self and client for a larger social good? And if such a line exists, then how to we know when we've crossed it?
Is It A Matter Of 'Truth'?
Is it question of truth? The word truth in big, honking capital letters implies that there is only one truth. It can make anyone nervous. TRUTH has a bullying, assertive tone. It lacks humility, and it presents a posture of undeniable, inescapable superiority. Like some people we've all come across, it has an "Iknow- better-than-you" quality that quite frankly, can get on your nerves.
Serving the "5 Masters"
I have no simple solutions to the public relations dilemmas you will face. But I do offer a simple guide. I call it "Serving the 5 Masters." In their book, Public Relations Ethics, Philip Seib and Kathy Fitzpatrick talked about five duties of public relations professionals. These are the 5 Masters that I referred to -- self, client, employer, profession and society.
When faced with an ethical dilemma, look first within yourself at your own values. These will guide decisions based on what you truly believe is right or wrong (remember "deontology"?). Ask yourself, "Can I sacrifice my own personal values for the client, for my employer, for my profession, or for
The client is generally the first loyalty beyond self (you can substitute the word "organization" if you don't do work for clients). Decide if you are doing work for the client or organization, or if it's for the "cause" that they represent. Remember—as long as you work for a client, there are some confidences that you must keep. Ask yourself, "Knowing what I know, can I represent the client, do what has to be done, and still sleep well at night?"
Your employer signs your paycheck. No work, no public relations ethics decisions. It's as easy as that. But if you knowingly allow harmful work to continue, you'll be violating your duty to the public, which
many would agree takes precedence over duty to employer. Ask yourself, "Is the work I'm being asked to do harmful to the public?"
As a public relations professional, you are obligated to support your colleagues. You are obligated to be responsible to your peers. To produce unprofessional work is unethical. Allowing others to produce
unprofessional work borders on being unethical. Ask yourself, "Is what I'm about to do professional? Is it what my role models would do?"
Finally, society is the key component to ethical public relations decisions. We must serve the public interest. I believe that this particular master takes precedence over all the others, including self. Ask yourself, "Will my decision benefit society, even if I hurt myself, my client, my employer or my
profession?" That is the toughest question to answer. But nobody said this was easy. There is no right or wrong answers. There are only courageous decisions.

We need to suggest and adopt standards of organizational and individual behavior. If your organization has an ethics policy, make sure you communicate it properly to your employees or members, to your
board, to your management, and to your customers and other stakeholders.
God has sent us to do something special,Life is once for all but not to be Repeated by a pendulum.
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