This Week in PR Ethics (10/15/20): Making tough choices and avoiding bad ideas

This week the most interesting ethics content came down to one theme: ideas. From new frameworks for making decisions, to new failures to consider, and new learnings from South Asia, there is something here for anyone interested in ethics.

  • An ethical framework for ethical decisions – Harvard Business Review this week published an article that provides a framework for leaders to make difficult decisions. As I tell my students, no framework is perfect and they all have drawbacks and weaknesses. I think this one includes good questions for everyone to ask themselves. But there are some underlying assumptions and statements that really rub me the wrong way. The author presupposes everyone subscribes to a teleological/utilitarian worldview and ignores deontology and to an extent virtue. He also presupposes there are rapid “ethical shifts” and doesn’t give guidance on when two people follow the guidelines and come to a different decision. But we agree on one thing completely “there are no easy answers.” 


  • Ethics, Transparency, Speed and Reputation Management – Brook Zimmatore wrote an interesting article for B2C that looks at the role of ethics, speed and transparency in reputation management. He used an example I missed involving a TikTok star Faith Ordway who wasn’t paid for a social post she did for a company and let them know about it. I tried to find the video and see if she was transparent in labeling it an ad, but couldn’t find the original post.


  • There is unethical and then there are bad ideas: I frequently tell my students just because something is a bad idea, doesn’t mean it is unethical. The Kraft “Send Noods” campaign fits the bill nicely. For a food geared towards those under 18 (It has been my 13-year old’s favorite food for 8+ years) – encouraging them to send “noods” is just plain wrong…


  • Ethics in South Asia – Ethisphere has posted 14 session videos from its 2020 South Asia Ethics Summit. I plan to listen to all of them as time allows, but enjoyed the one on bribery, corruption and ethics from Day 3. If you have time, it is always interesting to get a non-US perspective.
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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