LaTishia Futrell Homework Assignment Chapter 3 & 4 Communications 4210 – Public Relations Monday, October 5, 2009


LaTishia Futrell Homework Assignment Chapter 3 & 4 Communications 4210 – Public Relations, M/6-9pm Chapter 3 Question #1 Ethics are the ideology behind how a person displays and conducts his or her values in any given situation. When the question of ethics arise, it may be related to what is right or wrong, fair or unfair, caring or uncaring, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible and more importantly how the individual may believe within their own heart and mind about their own actions. Ones conscious and personal decision making will drive their ethical decisions in personal and professional matters. A persons ability to disagree about ethics is based solely upon his or her personal beliefs of what is the ‘norm’ and what type of standards they live by on what is right and wrong, as there is no real concrete answer.

Question # 2 The three positions are: 1) Absolute, where the person believes every decision is either “right” or “wrong” no matter what the consequences are. They may be a bit more stringent in thought, and inflexible. 2) Existential, where people who practice this theory believe in finding the balance or middle ground in any situation. These people tend to be more flexible and can make practical decisions that will promote the best outcome. 3) Situational, in a sense that each decision is based upon the outcome and how those involved will be impacted. They seek to do the least harm,


and provide the most good to the greatest number of people. This person tends to be the diplomat, who will work harmoniously in any given situation. Personally, I would fall somewhere between the Existential and Situational, as I tend to be diplomatic when necessary, but know that making a practical decision that will have the most effective outcome is usually the best option.

Question #3 I would agree that a PR person can be an advocate for a cause and still be ethical, as long as their role on the position that is being advocated is clearly defined at the onset of the campaign. To the extent that the PR person discloses his own belief, communicates their position up-front and is not biased, nor trying to manipulate the audience in any way – I believe that he or she has demonstrated an ethical stance. The role differentiation enables the public to know that PR people are advocates, in a sense, but also that they are communicating the truth, and not just “selling” a product to benefit their client.

Question # 4 The role of organizations such as the PRSA and the IABC has been to develop and convey a set of standards of ethical, professional public relations practice and to inform the masses of the role of public relations. These groups continue to set ethical standards for PR people and foster professionalism amongst those who are in the field. These organizations offer professional development, keep practitioners abreast of new trends, and award organizations for excellence.


Question #15 A front group is an organization, campaign or alliance that seemingly is a grassroots effort who is vested in swaying public policy. They mask themselves or pretend to be the opposition, but in reality they are fake counter groups who have ties to the organization or efforts that are being questioned by the public or government entities. I believe these groups are unethical, and should be required to report on their establishment, their board of directors and any ties they may have to the industry in question that they are lobbying for or against.

Chapter 4 Question #1 In recent years, the public relations department in many organizations has evolved. In the past most PR people were merely technicians, who practiced one-way communications on behalf of an organization. This may have included a news release or simple publicity functions. Today, many organizations have the communications manager, who is involved in strategic planning and organizational communications in addition to marketing, media and community relations. The responsibilities have grown and many PR people are VP’s and Executive VP’s who report directly to the chief executive or operating officers.

Question #2 The structure and culture of an organization has an impact on the PR department because if the department operates from a technical only position, it will not have


the buy-in from top management. However, if the organization’s PR department is closely aligned to the goals and outcome of the company’s strategic goals and plans, it will have more input and receive greater support. The bottom line is important, and if the PR department can contribute to this objective, it will have more influence in the organization.

Question #5 Line managers have the ability to hire, delegate, set goals and objectives and directly influence the work of others. Staff on the other hand, have little or no authority and influence the work of others indirectly with suggestions, recommendations and advice. In the past, PR was viewed as a staff person who was hired for technical functions such as: the company newsletter, news releases, and other directives from a manager. However, in recent years, PR departments have more influence and the ability to direct and have a seat at the executive table in the decision making process. Public Relations departments belong as line managers with influence and a voice in the organization.

Question #7 The four areas that cause friction in an organization with the public relations department are: legal, human resources, advertising and marketing. Legal is concerned about the effect of any public relations statements and how that conflict may cause a lawsuit against the company. The PR people counter, with the effect not making a statement will have on the company’s public image and market share.


Human resources tend to believe that the information should flow from their department. Whereas, PR believes that external communications need to be worded correctly to protect the company’s image. Advertising collides with the PR department over funding to communicate to the public. The advertising department is concerned about sales and PR about customers. Lastly, the marketing department who is more concerned about new customers and buyers. Public relations have a broader scope of the customer as any group that can have an impact on the operation of the organization.

Question #9 I do not think that if PR people are relegated to the marketing department they will lose influence if there is a clear definition of what the PR functionality is for the organization. If the only role is to create newsletters and media releases, then there may be a need for concern. However, if the vice president or manager seeks the input from the PR manager, there can be a synergistic approach to the goals and objectives of the department. Truly, it will depend on the parameters that are set before the transition to the marketing department takes place. If there are not any clear guidelines or roles defined, then there may be a need for concern and the PR person may need to seek other avenues to generate some awareness of their roles and responsibilities and how they relate to the company’s overall image and bottom line.