Tor Bang

It is not difficult to come by examples of questionable ethical practice and behavior in the broad fields of public relations and strategic communications. When sharing such aspects, and insight, with peers, students, and society, authors must keep in mind that they should be balanced, fair, and objective.

It should be said that ethical practice is the norm within the public relations industry. Such practice does not get headlines – as little as good parenting, well‐run municipalities, and caring for one another do. Bad practice does.

Actors in the field of public relations operate with a list of concepts, as dichotomous adjectives – good and bad, ethical and unethical, moral and immoral – describing and assessing community practice, adjectives which correspond with a community’s cultural, ideological, or economic standards that touch upon public relations and strategic communication. They color relationships between individuals, and within and between organizations, parliaments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and nations.

Adjectives are rarely objective descriptions; they are stereotypes, intentionally put there in order to label and categorize practices. Labels are qualitative and often not empirically reliable, however fit to qualify standards and practices. Bystanders’ assessments of end results may turn out to be surprisingly simple. Well‐qualified commentators and peers may settle for the simple dichotomies of ethical or unethical, good or bad ...

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