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+ July 2012
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Last semester I partook in a postgraduate course in university about Public Relations. Previously, in another university, I studied in depth a philosophical unit of ‘Ethics’. In the unit of ‘Ethics’ I learnt that the closest thing to ‘Public Relations’ ethics was a mixture of Journalism Ethics, Utilitarian Ethics, and Situational Ethics. Now, the b*tch of my Public Relations (Media Relations) course requested that we write a lengthy essay discussing ‘media relations’ ethics. Bear in mind she never studied core fundamental ethics in her whole life, and I graduated in ethics with first class honours. Anyway, I clearly knew that what she wanted us to talk about was established ‘notions’ of ethics like the ones taught in class which comprised of the following parameters of which I had memorized off by heart very quickly within the course:

 Honesty
 Accountability
 Caring for others
 Keeping promises
 Fidelity
 Fairness
 Integrity
 Respect for others
 Pursuit of excellence

Of course, I was a smart aleck and instead of discussing those criteria(s), as established in the ‘public relations institute of Australia’ website through overly embellished unnecessary language, I merely made mention of them. I then highlighted that such notions as established by ‘PRIA’ only highlighted a list of ‘values’ and not exactly a code/methodology that would classify it under any agreed ethical theorem. In fact, there is no worldwide consensus in the notion of what constitutes a ‘media relations’ practitioner or let alone PR. With that being established it is completely erroneous to dictate a set of ‘values’ as a code of ethics because values in itself are highly subjective and the mere notion of ‘values’ indicates that they are only guide/markers for the sakes of suggestion.

Well, I wrote a pretty good paper, and in the end I only achieved a mark of ‘C’ (~65%). You can tell I was fuming in anger and indeed I correct all her corrections throughout the paper (it was sad, every time she tried to prove me wrong to any point I made I completely turned it around and proved her wrong because I had direct supporting evidence to my statements from textbooks) and then I apply for an appeal. So indeed my paper was re-marked by the chair of school, and guess what? They lowered my mark to a ‘P-’ (~52%). What else could I do? All the lecturers for all my classes only gave me hassle of similar natures for the remainder of the semester due to this little furore – in the end I just gave up and decided to continue doing my assignments the way I thought was best and hence I did not adhere to the lecturer’s taste in layout for any of them. Well, I graduated, but my question still persists – is there such a thing as ‘public relations’ ethics? I seriously doubt it very much, especially as it is a career that fits in a lower income bracket range. Screw them, and as an act of revenge I will state which university this was at; it was Murdoch University in Perth here down-under.

This is my first blog in this forum and I am not exactly too sure if other members read each other’s blogs just yet. But in case someone does and he/she has anything to teach me about ‘public relations’ ethics please do. I would love to learn why I may have been ‘deemed’ wrong by the cream of the crop of ‘Murdoch University’.

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