This Week in PR Ethics (11/17/22): Stupidity, KFC, and Twitter

While I could probably just write KFC and Twitter, drop the mic and walk away this week – there are some nuances that are worthy of further exploration.

  • Unethical or stupid – It sounds like something from a bad PR parody. Let’s promote our fried chicken around Kristallnacht and the acceleration of the persecution of Jews in Germany. But unfortunately, KFC did just that. I tell my students all the time – just because something is stupid, doesn’t mean it is unethical. I was ready to chalk this up to stupidity. But then KFC explained it was due to an unmonitored bot creating the promotions. That is where I see the ethical failures creeping in – with poor MI and AI and not checking for biases.


  • Blue Check – People are writing volumes on the “Blue check debacle.” The article that really hit home with me is how someone created and verified a fake Eli Lilly account and immediately tweeted out that Lilly was going to make insulin free. (disclosure, I led a team supporting their social efforts a few years ago). The fake news spread like wildfire. This ties back to truth, honesty and transparency, and how Twitter is now unfortunately a great new tool for bad actors to spread misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.



  • …Unless you are Twitter – Where there have been multiple reports that employees are being fired for criticism of management, even if it is just within the company channels. It is a chilling example to use to drive home that what you say can have consequences – particularly if you say it on outside channels. This is a great discussion topic with students on why they need to be careful what they say on social. And also, the type of culture this builds at a company.
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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