This Week in PR Ethics (3/19/20) Coronawashing; Cardi B and IP; Ethics and Bird Death

If you told me I would be using Cardi B as a communication ethics example two weeks in a row, I would have told you that you were out of your mind….but here I am. This week we will look at coronawashing; coronavirus, Cardi B and IP; and Ethics and Birth Death

  • Coronavirus, Cardi B and IP – Rolling Stone this week shared a great example of IP infringement that every social media professional should keep in mind. DJ iMarkkeyz’s dance track “Coronavirus,” which remixes audio ripped from a Cardi B Instagram post where she says that the coronavirus “&$@! Is getting real” rose to #9 on iTunes. This is a case of taking public comments and posts and reusing them, but without proper licensing and approval. It’s something that is easy for many people to do thinking “If it’s on social” its OK.
  • Ethics and Bird Death – Speaking of strange but true, Ten retired press officers attacked the validity of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s new Bird Death Rule according to Yuba. The report states that those in favor of the rule were given access before the public comment period and their statements were released at the same time, unduly influencing the process. This ties into the issues with insider information, access and fairness
  • Corona-washing – We have Greenwashing and Astroturfing. When we look back will Coronawashing be a new thing? I brought it up with some businesses yesterday and PRWeek also asked about “Purposeful vs Purpose-washing” Are businesses doing good because they want to and believe in it, or capitalizing on an issue? This goes back to a fundamental ethical question of if we do good for the wrong reasons, are we really doing good?  It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next year

Until next week. Stay healthy, wash your hands and embrace ethics.

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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