White is the colour of PR Ethics

Posted Mar 14th, 2014 in Public Relations

If we had to choose a colour for PR ethics, I believe it would be white.  This is not because it is the symbolic opposite of black, which is often used in the comparison of good and evil, but because white is the colour that brings together the many colours of the rainbow.

Public Relations professionals must have the understanding of not only the many layers of the internal organization (policies, vision, mission, values, goals, objectives, culture, etc), but also must understand the outside world that influences their business (economic environment, industry, audiences, technology, etc). They must think holistically. They must see and understand the ‘big picture’ to help them make wise short term and long term decisions that will support successful outcomes for their organization (i.e. reputation management).

Strategic Public Relations and Communications managers will have the ability to see the many colours of the rainbow and then bring the colour white to the 'table'.

Questions to ask yourself when considering PR Ethics

  • What is your job within the organization and the PR profession?

“Public Relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on who its success or failure depends” [1]

  • Am I breaking any rules (industry, privacy, company policies)?

  • Does this go against my personal code of ethics? 

  • Is this the truth? Did I do my due diligence to find all the facts? Did I listen well?

  • Am I managing for the future?  Thinking of the big picture?  (i.e. reputation management, etc.)

  • Am I being sensitive?  Sensitive to the all the publics/audiences that I am addressing?  Sensitive to the culture of my company/client?

  • Do I have the public’s best interest in mind?

  • Have I given proper credit to the source(s) of my information?


  1. Do not take any gifts or payments from anyone to further your career (directly or indirectly) unless it is your client and you have an agreed upon arrangement.
  2. "Stop, Breathe, and Think" before you speak, especially in a crisis situation


[1] Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations 11th Edition – Broom&  Sha – pg 5

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