In a world of non-factual journals, articles, and social media, is there such a thing as ethical PR?
By Karla Jo Helms
A good PR campaign is essential to the growth of your business and it is important to ensure the PR strategy is executed properly and professionally so you get the results you are looking for. Part of an effective PR campaign is tapping into the expertise of a reputable PR professional that has experience dealing with the media.
If you have ever focused your attention on the media such as watching their shows, reading their publications, listening to their broadcasts you are probably aware that the media will feature stories that they know for a fact will sell their publication or advertising spots on their television program.
Sometimes the story they tell can help your business and sometimes it will not. But this is not a reason to shy away from publicity. This is where an ethical PR professional can be very beneficial to gaining control of this type of situation.
What is Ethical PR?
A PR professional who knows how to work with the media can handle even the toughest situations with finesse and grace. If the PR professional is knowledgeable in their work, they take an interest in what the media does and what the media’s story is all about AND most importantly they know their client’s business and can talk intelligently to the media about their story. The journalist will respect and want to work with that PR pro. This type of professionalism is what commands respect. And when a PR Pro is honest enough to do the work necessary to ensure the media is well-informed as well as getting his/her client gets results, that is an ethics in PR.
A PR person who does not follow this protocol will be placed lower on the list by the media and no journalist will listen to them when they try to implement PR for your business.
And ethical PR professional is adept at achieving a balance between taking an interest in and helping the media while still having their client’s best interests in mind. If you hire a PR professional with that type of business ethic, they can take your PR campaign to a whole new level.
How Ethics Benefits Your PR
An ethical PR Pro will not be afraid to interview the media source to ensure they understand exactly where they are coming from and what they are writing about. An exceptional PR professional will repeat what the media person said to them to ensure there are no misunderstandings.
They will also find out if the news being released is going to be good or bad. Sometimes that bears asking. This establishes an understanding between the PR professional and the journalist and it demonstrates a level of professionalism. PR professionals that known their game, are not likely to be caught off guard.
And a true PR professional will also do their research on the media person they are working with to discover what types of content and stories they turn out, and where they like to expose pain points. The PR professional will also find out what particular angle the media person likes to portray as well as some of the questions they may ask their client. The media is looking for a good story to tell and they are sensitive to their own advertising customers. A good PR professional knows this and can help the media while keeping in mind their professional responsibility to you, the client.
This is where a PR professional with ethics can be of tremendous value. Knowing both sides of the coin makes for a better outcome. If the media airs or publishes something that is not accurate, the repercussions could be treacherous and the image that you are trying to create can lose face, so to speak. A wise PR professional will see it as their responsibility to oversee the publicity message and make sure that nothing is misconstrued; and if it is, they will work with the media source to correct it before it goes to press.
As you can see, media results are contingent upon relationships built by hard work and a high-degree of professionalism. Being professional means being knowledgeable in PR techniques and knowing the rules of engagement with the media. In the eyes of a great PR professional, anyone who lies or stretches the truth is not really in PR but instead is in propaganda or something that is only serving someone’s selfish needs or even a vested interest.
And by the way, an ethical PR professional should never have to “tell” you that they are ethical. If they have to tell you they are, run away! You will know it by what they DO.