Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Worth reading: "Responsible Advocacy"

I spent part of my winter break catching up on reading, and I came across a book worth recommending: Ethics in Public Relations: Responsible Advocacy, edited by Kathy Fitzpatrick and Carolyn Bronstein (disclosure: I went to grad school with Carolyn and she's a friend).

PR academics have been fighting for a long time now about what makes PR ethical. Some claim dialogue (symmetrical communication) is more ethical than persuasion (scientific or asymmetrical communication). Yet we pretty much all go into the classroom and proceed to teach students how to write "effectively" or plan "strategically" and it's hard to say why that's not persuasion. I like this new book because it recognizes, as PRSA did when it revised its Code of Ethics a few years ago, that advocacy is a core value. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I saw an immediate application for some of the ideas presented in the book for my PR Campaigns class and added it to my brief lecture for the first day of class, encouraging the students to think about the societal effects of their work, and not just the client's pleasure.

(I also uploaded it to Slideshare but can't get Blogger to accept the html code to embed it. In the spirit of the season, bah humbug!)

Addition: here's the most important slide.

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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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