PR Pros Lie? Say It Isn’t So

A blog post by a writer at the U.K.’s Guardian has fueled an ethics debate over the weekend that has reached across the pond to America. The post, provocatively titled “Have you ever been lied to by a PR?” was actually in response to another post by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations director Phil Morgan, who took some shots at PRs (PR practitioners) in the U.K.

This got a response from PRSA CEO Gerry Corbett, who wrote in a Guardian op-ed that while Morgan’s questioning of the ethics of PR pros is valid, lying occurs very rarely in the U.S. on the part of PR professionals.  Here’s part of what Corbett had to say in the op-ed:

“You can’t retain someone’s trust if you are continually lying. The PRSA code of ethics, which applies directly to PRSA’s 32,000 members, and more broadly as an ethical guide for PR professionals throughout the US, has established a set of guidelines that asserts one very clear point: truth, honesty and disclosure in all communications is paramount.”

Corbett’s article received a lot of comments from both the U.K. and the U.S. Some criticized Corbett’s “Pollyannish” view, others agreed with Corbett’s assessment but many said PR pros do lie—or at least bend the truth—on a regular basis.

Obviously this is a damaging perception problem for PR. So what can PR professionals proactively do to stem this criticism?

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01