Are ethics and public relations mutually exclusive, like ethical embezzlement? Popular conceptions of public relations range from the relatively benign, as in ginning up publicity, to the more nefarious, as in sowing doubt and spreading misinformation. In that view, on a good day, public relations is frivolous; on a bad day, evil. A long line of social critics, philosophers, and ordinary citizens see more bad days than good. In fact, a recent survey shows most Americans consider PR practitioners “smart, friendly liars.”

In a 30 minute talk, Dick Martin showed that PR doesn’t have to be the shortest four-letter word in the dictionary. Entitled “From P. T. Barnum to Donald Trump: An Ethical Appraisal of Public Relations,” the presentation examined public relations, from the happy hokum of a P. T. Barnum to the hollow bombast of a Donald Trump and the points in between. Along the way, Martin examined the practice through the intellects of great thinkers from Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and John Mill to John Rawls, Alasdair Macintyre, and Carol Gilligan.

Watch the video here.


 About Dick Martin

b-martinDick Martin writes about public relations and marketing. Most recently, with Donald K. Wright, Harold Burson Professor of Public Relations at Boston University, he co-authored Public Relations Ethics: How To Practice PR Without Losing Your Soul.  He has also authored four books for the American Management Association and articles for such publications as the Harvard Business Review, Chief Executive, and the Journal of Business Strategy. He also conducts popular workshops on public relations ethics. From 1997 to 2003, he was Chairman of the AT&T Foundation and executive vice president responsible for the company’s public relations, employee communications and brand management.


 About “Public Relations Ethics: How To Practice PR Without Losing Your Soul”

Written by Dick Martin and Donald K. Wright, Public Relations Ethics: How To Practice PR Without Losing Your Soul represents a practical guide to ethical decision-making tailored specifically to the needs of those who practice and study public relations. It traces the development of ethical theory from ancient Greece through the works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to modern day public relations executives including Harold Burson, Robert Dilenschneider, and Richard Edelman. The book helps readers build personal frameworks for ethical reasoning that will enable them not only to recognize the ethical issues at play in public relations practice but also to analyze the conflicting duties and loyalties in these situations.

This volume fills a gap in the currently available books on the subject, most of which either lack theoretical grounding or practical application. Illustrative cases used in this book span a wide range of public relations functions. To update readers on issues discussed in this book, the authors have started an online conversation. You can join the discussion here.


 Offered with …

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