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.