Working at a public relations agency can oftentimes bring up ethical dilemmas and moral ambiguities. Here, we are doing a series of blogs analyzing the ethics of the public relations industry in hopes to arm professionals and agencies with better knowledge about how to deal with ethical dilemmas that may come up in the field.
Conflicts of interest can sneak up on you, especially if you work at a public relations agency with a specialty. At our public relations agency, we live by the following guidelines to ensure that we avoid conflicts of interest and handle them if they do arise.
What is a conflict of interest?
A conflict of interest is defined as a situation in which the concerns or aims of two different parties are incompatible. For example, if you invested in a client’s primary competitor and fail to disclose this information to your client, that is a personal conflict of interest.
Why is avoiding conflicts of interest important?
In order to earn trust and mutual respect with clients and the public, it is essential to be transparent and unbiased when it comes to professional interests.
Preventing and resolving conflicts of interest
The easiest way to mitigate conflicts of interest is to prevent them from occurring. As a public relations agency or individual, don’t bring on new clients that directly compete with current clients. This way, you won’t develop opportunities for one to succeed over the other.
When working at a public relations agency, it is essential to keep your personal interests separate from your professional work. Do not merge your personal, religious, social or political views in the workplace, and especially not with clients. To remain ethical, you must act in the best interest of your clients, even if against your personal interests.
If you notice a potential conflict of interest arising, disclose these promptly to publics that may be affected. This way, you allow them to make informed decisions with you on how to resolve the issues.
Interested in learning more about public relations ethics? Click here.