A fairly current ethical lapse in the public relations industry is the Burson-Marsteller ethics flap. Basically what happened was PR reps, Jim Goldman (former reporter for CNBC) and John Mercurio (ex-political reporter), were caught behind a campaign where their client’s name was not revealed. The two men were both involved in questionable acts including, engaging reporters and bloggers about privacy concerns dealing with Google’s Gmail feature Social Circle. Former FTC researcher and blogger Christopher Soghoian exchanged emails with Mercurio. He then posted this exchange online. In the email Soghoian asked Mercurio who was paying for the campaign and Mercurio’s response was he “can’t disclose my client yet.” It turned out it was Facebook that was behind this campaign because they were trying to target Google. During all this, Goldman was feeding the story to USA Today.
This type of unethical behavior gives Public Relations a bad name. These two men should not have been involved in such sneaky behavior with this campaign. People and companies need PR reps to represent them in the best way possible. Lying and being deceitful are not the ethical way to go about this. Hopefully, future PR reps will learn from the mistakes of this ethical lapse.
I think there are a lot of myths about the field of Public Relations. Although my family and friends are very supportive about my major and what I want to do with it, I know many parents do not support their child’s interest when it comes to this field. Learning more about PR and talking to other students, I have come to the conclusion that Public Relations has a lot to offer and can be a very successful career path like most jobs out there. Some of the preconceptions about PR in my opinion include the following: only women do it, it’s all about press releases, and if you are a journalist, you can easily filter into the PR field.
Although women tend to dominate this field, men have positions and important roles when it comes to Public Relations. We have talked in PRCA 2330, why women tend to dominate. It is because of our social abilities, our creativeness, and our ability to listen easily. Just because women gravitate towards this career more than men, doesn’t mean that men aren’t a part of it. Also, PR is NOT all about press releases. This field is changing as communication and technology advance and I believe people’s jobs tend to change because of this. There is so much more to the job and depending on what people specifically do, it consists of many different day to day tasks. This brings me to my last point of how people think if they are a journalist, they can easily filter over to PR. I am sure some journalists could strive in the PR field; however I do know some would struggle. Journalism and PR are different in so many ways. In both careers, good writing is important. However, in PR, organization, creativity, and many other management aspects make it harder for these journalists to adapt.