Archive for October, 2010

Aberdeen adventure 2

Posted on October 24, 2010. Filed under: Ethics, Public Relations, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Interesting evening at Robert Gordon University where the CIPR/Grampian PR group held the session on PR ethics. Good turn out with a group of MA PR students and people from different sectors. My bit went OK – hard to know if it was too academic but kept relating it to my own everyday PR experience with very few lit references. But still a sense overall that ethics baffles most people and they don;t spend much time thinking about it – work is too hectic for such indulgence. Students stopped to ask questions at the end and seemed interested.

Most interesting element was contribution of Matt Taylor a senior BP comms guy who seemed thoughtful and interested in the issues raised, as well as raising issues from BP experience. I quoted a BP copywriter who felt betrayed by Gulf of Mexico disaster and he seemed to ‘get’ that conflict between personal and employer values. In PR you are really close to embodying the values of the organisation, so these things matter. Like me, he seemed someone who needs to believe in their work – there are lots like that in PR, though the image of the indifferent agency dominates. If I can get any post doc funding I want to interview people like him to see how self image, image of PR and ethics interlock.

Aberdeen Travelodge was grim – and not cheap  – and train back packed but managed to squeeze a quick spin round the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, which was brilliant – fantastic building, full of fascinating information and artefacts, including 3 story model of an  oil rig.  Brief glimpse into Aberdeen world – that and busy docks visible from museum – a sense of a town that still labours physically, run on ships and machines and cranes, something missing from cities I know now – can just remember the sight of the cranes over London docks from childhood but most cities are just offices and shops now.

Aberdeen Maritime Museum

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Aberdeen adventure

Posted on October 17, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations | Tags: , , , |

Planning what to say to the Aberdeen/Grampian CIPR meeting on Thursday. The audience is mostly oil industry PR, my subject is PR ethics. Should be fascinating. I imagine they get double distaste, oil AND PR, yeuggh. But it occurs to me that all the disapprovers (including me) end up shoving sectors like oil and arms further into the shadow when of course we need to turn the lights on. The blame game maybe feeds that. Do oil industry PR people embrace the demonic, yeah I’m a bad dude, or deny it, we’re helping save the world, really? I’ve said before that I think the focus on employers in the debates on PR ethics are indicators of the poverty of the discourse, but it is interesting. Also credit: this is the only CIPR group to have responded to a UK wide call for meetings on ethics.

My intention is not to point fingers but to highlight the utter mess that is PR ethics. My most recent research has shown that codes are based on the excellence model, all ideals and symmetry and equality, but practitioners see themselves as advocates, with loyalty to client above society. This is a massive paradigm schism and helps explain why codes are so irrelevant to most practitioners: they are not speaking the same language.

Coupled with the split between PR as seen from the inside (serving humanity) and from the outside (propaganda and distortion), the field seems profoundly fractured. Interestingly there seems to be very little concern about this. Why is that, I wonder?

So I welcome the invitation to Aberdeen and greatly look forward to Q&A.

Ethics Event Flyer v3

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