This Week in PR Ethics (9/10/20): Actions not Words, and a Global Ethics Perspective

This week in PR ethics there was not one stand out issue, but a number of interesting and brief reads. There were a number of examples this week reinforcing that words are not enough. Plus, with the Helsinki Conference and PRCA’s Ethics month, there were some great global perspectives on the topic.

Edit: There was a number of COVID-19 Related topics that broke today (Woodward, ethics of distribution, adverse reactions) – I will do a followup post on those when I am back from vacation….



  • How the Milwaukee Bucks Exemplified Ethical Action – A great example of how actions drive the narrative is the Milwaukee Bucks players and their boycott. PR Week looks at how action from employees prompted corporate response and how corporate communications responded.


  • A global perspective – The Helsinki Conference spent a lot of time looking at ethics this past week. I was following along on Twitter, and it was interesting to see Austria’s approach to enforcing a code of ethics. It is something I know we will be discussing in my class in a few weeks – the benefits and drawbacks of an enforcement focus. It is an interesting debate and the textbook we use makes clear the benefits and limitations of an aspirational code.


  • Ethics and COVID – When I was following the Helsinki conference, I came across a great interview between Christina Forsgard, the ICCO ethics chair and Alex Aiken, Director of Government Communications in the UK. You can watch the seven minute video here. Alex discusses his most surprising ethical dilemma and how he handled ethical concerns around COVID communication.



  • The three rings of an effective ethics system – Ethisphere is a great organization, and this month their magazine articulates ethics foundations in a different way. They look at the three rings of an effective ethics system – compliance/following the law; universal rights and company values.
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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