The sixth annual Grunig Lecture featured keynote speaker Dave Senay, President and CEO of FleishmanHillard, who spoke about “Ethics as Culture” in current public relations affairs.
It was a worldwide cultural phenomenon, Senay explained, how the notions of what is right and wrong are universally believed. Using the Grunig model as his base, Senay explained a high moral standard and well-formed ethics are what lead us forward to success.
“Ethical behavior is the foundation to building trust,” Senay said.
Ethics in Practice
Senay highlighted examples of public relations mishaps recently that involved overseas embezzlement, lying and other unethical practices. The consequences for these actions often cost the companies financially, but even more costly, the value of their reputation. While the specific rules that these companies broke were in respect to their own regulations, the overall concepts of cheating and lying were wrong.
“We can never create enough rules to cover every situation, but we can create a set of reasonable principles people can apply,” Senay said.
The Power of “Public” Within Relations
Senay explained that a company’s or individual’s practitioner that the public did not trust would not last. He said the best way to maintain the wellbeing of a company in both productivity and in relations to the public is to adhere to universal accepted practices. In the modern global business model, regulatory standards may differ, however, there is an overlying sense of right and wrong that must be applied.
“No company can exist without the permission of its publics,” Senay said.
Senay cautioned the audience with was that unyielding practice of ethical behavior is key to drive the public relations as an ethical profession to its heights.
“We need to forcefully enforce these principles or our ethics will erode away,” Senay said.