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Communication Ethics in a Connected World

Research in Public Relations and Organisational Communication

Edited By Andrea Catellani, Ansgar Zerfass and Ralph Tench

What are the main ethical challenges for strategic communication and public relations professionals today? How can researchers help in understanding and dealing with these challenges in a complex and interconnected world? This book offers some answers to these questions, based on contributions by researchers from different European countries and other continents. The chapters of the first section focus on general concepts about communication and public relations ethics as well as corporate social responsibility. Three sections then deal with: the specific situation of communication and PR ethics in various European countries; the evolution of ethical skills of communication professionals; and the interaction between communication ethics and the public sphere. The final two sections offer insights on recent research in public relations, like employee communication and engagement, mentoring in public relations and the evolution of media relations and social media communication.
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Responsible Advocacy? Reflections on the History, System, and Codes of Public Relations Ethics, with Comments on Education and Research


Responsible Advocacy?

Reflections on the History, System, and Codes of Public Relations Ethics, with Comments on Education and Research


University of Leipzig, Germany1

Questions and problems of an ethics of public communication, especially a public relations ethics, seem to get more attention, both in academic and in the professional field of public relations. Ethical issues of corporate communication, appropriate guidelines, codes, policies and procedures to solve problems are getting more relevant for the top management too. After discussing and defining important basic concepts of PR ethics, the present contribution discusses some aspects of the historical development of public relations ethics. As an example, a norm with an outstanding importance, the norm of truth in public communication, especially public relations communication, is discussed. It is argued that public relations ethics can be understood and analysed as a subsystem of public relations, which itself can be understood as a social system. The analyses can be systematical and historical. Some challenges of public relations ethics in education and scientific research are finally discussed.

Some basic concepts

It seems that ethics and morality are once again high on the agenda. This appears to be one of a number of trends within a modern media-driven society, which many observers associate with the decline or loss of values, or, at best, with radically changing values. In the context of “ethics in a connected world”, however, we need to be more specific....

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