This Week in PR Ethics (3/18/21): Gov. Cuomo, Purpose and Whistleblowers

This week, Gov. Cuomo continued to provide myriad examples ripe for ethical discussion. A global PR firm was questioned on it if was staying true to its purpose, and the EU took a different approach to whistleblowers than the US.


  • Stay True to Your Purpose – Buzzfeed had an article this week questioning whether Edelman is staying true to the spirit of its pledge not to work with coal clients or climate deniers. Buzzfeed alleges that a trade group that has aggressively opposed climate action and provided funding to a climate denial group is an Edelman climate. Now the group does not deal with coal and itself does not deny climate change, but it does raise issues of transparency and walking the walk.


  • What Drives Whistleblowers – The Wall Street Journal reported this week on a new EU directive that charts a different course from the US. One area I found of particular interest is how researchers found “intrinsic incentives—like the urge to do the right thing—can be weakened by extrinsic incentives such as monetary rewards. That phenomenon was noted in studies and surveys that found fewer people donated blood when there was compensation for it.” This has caused the EU to not adopt what the US did as part of Dodd-Frank Act which “gives tipsters awards of up to 30% of the fines levied in SEC civil enforcement actions based on their tips.” This is a good hook to revisit whistleblowers, who is who is not a whistleblower, and the role of autonomy in whistleblowing. For the best example of a whistleblower I know, look at the first interview I did on EthicalVoices – Paula Pedene
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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