This Week in PR Ethics (9/29/22): How a release cost Boeing $200 million and the crackdown on greenwashing

This week the most interesting ethics stories highlighted how failure to disclose information cost a company $200 million and the crackdown on greenwashing.


  • Ethics and press releases – This article from O’Dwyers looks at how leaving information out of a news release cost Boeing $200 million. The author asks where were the public relations professionals when the decisions were made? We don’t know, and they may well have advocated strongly for it, but it shows you when it comes to disclosure of information, sometimes companies can get a bit too cute and cute can cost.


  • SEC cracks down on greenwashing – This week, a Reuters article recapped the initiatives the SEC is taking to combat greenwashing, including mandating climate-related disclosures, fund disclosures if they claim to take ESG into account and a strict naming rule that if a fund uses an ESG term in its name, it actually invests at least 80% of that way. This is still one of two areas where I am seeing the most unethical exaggerations (the other is purposewashing), but it is good to see real progress.


  • What is your most important duty? Duty conflicts are frequently at the root of most ethical dilemmas. I was stunned when I read this tweet that shows an exchange between a company and its employees which tells them media hype about Ian is overblown, to come into work and bring their kids and pets so they can work overnight to serve their national clients.  To me, duty to your employees safety is paramount….
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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