This Week in PR Ethics (3/12/20): Astroturfing, Cardi B and the FTC, politics and coronavirus

While it seems strange to be writing or discussing anything but the coronavirus, ethics and ethics issues continue on:

  • Cardi B and the FTC – The FTC Puts Influencers on Notice Over Ad Disclosures – I first read it in O’Dwyer’s, but theU.S. Federal Trade Commission slapped ten well-known Instagram influencers—including rapper Cardi B—with a warning for making “deceptive” endorsements on social media that failed to disclose their paid relationships with an advertiser.” It goes back to my mantra of disclose, disclose, disclose and how although it can be a challenge on social, you need to do it every time.
  • Astroturfing is alive and well (unfortunately) – The Virginia Mercury reports on a potential astroturfing campaign about gambling in Northern Virginia and the lack of disclosure of who is behind the campaign.
  • Ethics in Political Campaigns – While I am sure I could point to dozens of stories, I liked this one in the GW Hatchet, that highlights ethics in political communications. It shows the power of ethics in education, with one student telling his professor, Peter Loge “ethics-oriented curriculum made him a better political consultant and kept him “out of jail.” I look forward to reading the book he is writing.
  • Research, ethics and coronavirus – Just because I wouldn’t feel right not doing something re: coronavirus – there was an interesting post on STAT that is applicable to communication professionals as well as medical professionals – don’t cut corners or be unethical when it comes to research.

What else did you see this week?

Mark McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA
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Mark W. McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the general manager of C+C's Boston office. C+C is a communications agency all about the good and purpose-driven brands. He has more than 20 years of tech and fintech agency experience, served as the 2016 National Chair of PRSA, drove the creation of the PRSA Ethics App and is the host of


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