This Week in PR Ethics (11/10/22): Virtue – Twitter, Bruins and Misconduct

Well, the elections sure were interesting. Marlene Neill had a great assignment for her students this week where they had to analyze a political ad of their choice to see if it was ethical.  Beyond the elections, the common theme in PR ethics issues this week was (the lack of) virtue.


  • Twitter layoffs – Elon Musk gave a masterclass in how not to handle layoffs ethically. You should at least make sure you know you are laying off the right people.  Communications and Ethics professionals were hit very hard. The New York Times reported that Twitter’s communications department “was almost entirely laid off,” while Bloomberg reporter Kurt Wagner tweeted that the PR team “is down to just two people after layoffs.”


  • Boston Bruins forget the importance of virtue and character – The Boston Bruins are off to a historically great start, yet they managed to derail the positive momentum completely by signing a player with significant past issues. Racism, Bullying and making a kid with developmental delays eat candy that has been run through a urinal.  They allegedly asked the team about it, were told not to do it, and did it anyway. They saw the light, but their response was delayed and confusing. As one sports media personality stated, “They changed their mind after ‘new information came to light’ did they finally read the second paragraph of the player’s Wikipedia entry?’  This is a great example of virtue and character failures from an athlete and an organization.


  • Too many people still do not have Aristotle’s Virtue of Courage. The Ethics & Compliance initiative stat of the week reports that only 45% of employees globally who observed misconduct in the past 12 months reported it to their supervisors. If people do not speak out, they give tacit approval and make it harder on themselves to speak up later.
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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