This class has been eye-opening into the ethical dilemmas PR and advertising professionals face each day in dealing with business and the media. In my (hopefully) long career in PR and communications, I’m certain to encounter a situation where the content from this class will come in handy. The ethical systems we learned at the beginning of class established a great base for understanding ethical conflicts that arise. However once we started to present case studies, I began to see ethical situations I had never before thought of.
By learning all the ethical systems such as utilitarianism, means-based and Kantian theories, I now have all the measures necessary to make ethical decisions in the my career. The theory I agree most with is Kantian theory because in the end, we all have a responsibility to look out for each other and promote general goodwill. While we need to also be accountable for the outcomes and consequences of our actions, the intent behind actions is more important because it reflects character.
My “oh wow” occurred when my case study group researched and wrote the case study about the Nestlé scandal in Africa. I’m really shocked at how business people are educated today to look only at profit margins. This was the case when we looked at what Nestlé is doing in Africa. They were looking to increase profit margins at the expense of uneducated mothers and their babies. Although they did put up ads advocating breastfeeding, they acted unethically by refusing to acknowledge that most of the mothers were illiterate. For this reason, it’s important that as communicators, especially PR professionals, we maintain the ethical course for the company and organization as a whole. PR is more than writing press releases and doing social media. The bigger role of the PR professional is to establish and maintains a company’s culture with ethical action. If the company doesn’t have great ethical conduct, the job isn’t a good fit no matter how big your salary is. It might be cliché, but there is much more to life than money; ethical conduct will ensure that you are satisfied with yourself more than money ever could.
Overall, the class was enlightening and I definitely think the information is invaluable for anyone going into the business and media world. Also, I liked the fact that we learned not only ethical systems to use but we also got to see how they were or weren’t applied in certain cases. Most college classes teach you systems and formulas to use but you don’t get the opportunity to use them until you are out in the real world. By doing the case studies, I was able to better understand how to approach certain ethical situations from both a PR and advertising standpoint.