PROTS Public Relations Online Transparency System Weblog

Public Relations Online Transparency System notes and comments. Welcome and please add your contributions with the understanding that this blog is specifically for the purpose of documenting the creation of this system.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Transparency, Openness, & Honesty in the Practice of PR

So much has been said and written on this issue. As this blog is designed specifically to create a working framework to assess how to take theory into practice, I am setting forth a few standards that should hopefully begin the conversation.
  1. Compromising openness is stepping onto a slippery slope. The very first time it enters your mind, or your practice to compromise complete openness, you have taken a step onto a high wire of ethics. Without a net. Here is why: Once you have decided that it is acceptable to conceal information on behalf of your client or begin to conceal facts that are relevant to a given situation you have set into motion the "practice of concealment". This then will not only tell your client that it is OK to conceal facts, but that you yourself is a nontrustworthy entity in their perception of any situation that involves PR. There is no way to win this argument. If you will lie for your client you will lie to cover your own butt. In your client's eyes you become someone who cannot be trusted. Never compromise openness for your client willingly.
  2. Transparency is not a relativistic consideration. You can never justify nontransparency as a PR Practitioner. As the stated goal of Public Relations is to initiate and maintain "relations" with a set of defined publics; it is impossible to justify nontransparency and expect to maintain any kind of relationship. This would be a completely oxymoronic position. Either you initiate and maintain relationships or you somehow attempt to deceive your audiences. You cannot have it both ways.
  3. Honesty is not a relative commitment. Either you are honest or you are not. There is no way to be honest sometimes with any hope of keeping track of whatever deceptions you spin towards your clients, their publics, or yourself. Once the commitment to honesty is compromised, the practice of PR becomes much too complicated. What will you do, keep a journal of all the deceptions you have spun so you can keep them straight? Forget about it. It aint going to happen. Either you are true or false and eventually what you are will be proven.
Do you have anything to add? Would that be all there is to creating a Public Relations Online Transparency System so that the practitioners of PR have some standards to guide themselves with?