This Week in RPR Ethics (9/14/23) – There is Something Rotten in….AI, Media Relations, and Government Overreach

This week in PR Ethics the issues ran the gamut from AI and government overreach, to how much should brands cooperate with the government and should we believe what we read:

  • Conflict of Interest – One of the most common ethical dilemmas PR pros face deals with conflict of interest. This OpEd calls out a potential conflict of interest between the New York Racing Authority and an employee for a PR firm.



  • AI and Copyright – One of the key barriers to AI creative adoption are the concerns over plagiarism and lack of IP protection. This Ars Technica article highlights how the US Copyright Office Review Board this week rejected copyright protection for an AI-generated artwork that won a state fair art content because it lacks human authorship required for registration. We need to pay careful attention to this evolving body of case law to look at both the ethics and the legality of the issues.


  • Should businesses comply with government requests for information? – A few years ago, Apple made headlines and fans when it refused to give in to government requests for tools to break its encryption. This week there was a case that went the opposite way – Liberty Safes, a popular maker of gun safes, gave the government access to a customer’s safe because the FBI had a search warrant. They did not require a subpoena or specific request to them.  The backlash among conservatives and gun owners, Liberty’s main customer base has been negative and strong. 


  • Can New York Enforce Ethics Laws? – I follow JCOPE (NY Joint Commission on Public Ethics) closely because when I was chair of PRSA, I helped lead a fight to challenge their rule that any PR pro who did anything that could be read by a New York legislator would have to register as a lobbyist. The reconsidered.  Now it looks like Andrew Cuomo may have brought a case to further limit their power.
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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