This Week in PR Ethics (11/5/20): Philotimy, Racism and Disclosure

Every media outlet and social channel is blanketed with Presidential election coverage. This blog will give you a break from it all. We will look at ethical issues of the week that have nothing to do with elections: philotimy, racism and disclosure.

  • The power of virtue – One of my favorite publications is the Harvard Business Review. There was a great article this week that takes a different look at what might be driving ESG and triple bottom line efforts. It states that those are visible representations of an Ancient Greek ideal – corporate philotimy. Philotimy is “decency, dignity, honesty, altruism, and a dozen other ideals encapsulating what it means to live with integrity. It is greater than the individual, with a person’s act of philotimo reflecting positively on his or her family, community, organization, and society.”


  • What to do when your company brand is racist – While I love the Harvard Business Review, I rarely reference two of their stories in a blog post, but this week I have to. They present a fascinating case study on what to do when your company brand has a racist past and connections. I find the comments and opinions from executives almost as interesting as the case study itself.


  • Disclosure and astroturfing – While I am avoiding discussion of presidential politics this c/net article is a great example of organizations using potentially biased polling to reinforce their claims and positions. As I tell my students and clients – strategically, we always need to look at where the information is coming from, and ethically we need to always disclose where the information we use comes from.


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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