This Week in PR Ethics (08/27/20): A New Model of Ethical Leadership and an AI in PR Ethics Guide

This week the PR ethics discussion is all around ethical leadership. From a new model detailed in the Harvard Business Review, to a new ethics guide for leaders implementing AI in PR, to ethical leadership in purpose driven conversations. Some great reading to bring the month to a close.

  • A new model for ethical leadership – This article from the Harvard Business Review is a must read for anyone who is in interested in ethical leadership. It takes a teleological approach (where common ethics theory in PR takes a more deontological approach), but it is a fascinating read. It looks at the need for System 2 thinking, the positive power of the veil of ignorance, questions to ask to reduce unethical answers, and even gives you great advice for having the best date with your partner. This will be a must read for my class and I encourage everyone to read it.


  • Walking the purpose tightrope – While we are on the topic of ethical leadership, I also enjoyed this article from Rebecca Wilson in PR Week that looked at how an organization balances its core values with the tough business decisions likely required to survive. My main disagreement is with the tightrope metaphor. For me, when you embrace purpose, it becomes a superhighway with many fellow travelers making the journey easier.


  • A guide to AI ethics – Anyone who has read more than one or two of my blog posts knows that the ethical issues of AI is a topic that fascinates me. Yesterday, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) AIinPR Panel and the Canadian Public Relation Society (CPRS) published what they claim to be the world’s first AI in PR Ethics Guide. It is 19 pages, so I haven’t had a chance to digest it all yet, but you can read it for yourself


  • Black Men Discuss Ethics, Equity & Inclusion – On Sept 2 at 12 p.m. ET, PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards is hosting a fascinating free (for PRSA members) Webinar featuring Brandon Wilson, Roszell Gadson, Cedric Brown and Kenn Dixon. If you are a PRSA member you can get the login details on PRSA. I personally hope they open this Webinar up to everyone as the topic and perspectives are important to all.
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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