The Department of Communication Studies, Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR) held a webinar on Communication Ethics for Public Relations Officer in Contemporary Environment on October 2, 2020. The webinar was intended to compare public relations practices.
Dr Dina Septiani from UNAIR and Dr Kristie Byrum from the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania were the speakers at the webinar.
Starting the discussion, Dina explained that there are three types of ethics: consequentialism which focuses on the consequences of an action taken by a person, deontology that focuses on tasks, and virtue ethics that focus on character.
“The complexity from the role of public relations, especially in Indonesian government agencies, is seen from their influence to public and responsibility to provide information to the public,” he said.
Dina continued, another role of public relations is as an advocate for top management, to maintain the good name of the institution, to become a facilitator to bridge communication between institutions and the public, as well as be educators for institutions and the public. In carrying out its role, public relations is important to ensure what they do is in accordance with what they say and vice versa.
Then, ethics in the public relations profession include honesty; acting in the public interest; pay attention to ethics when conducting research such as how to collect data, how to collect information, and how to use research results. Public relations also need to consider journalistic ethics and law, consider ethics and business law, and being a management advisor.
“In Indonesia, there are several public relations associations including APPRI, PERHUMAS, and BAKOHUMAS,” said Dina.
Then, Kristie also explained that in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) there are two dimensions of the code of ethics, values , and provisions. These values include justice, independence, advocacy, honesty, and loyalty.
“On the value of justice, when we practice public relations, we must deal fairly with clients, employees, competitors, the media, or the general public. It is important to respect their opinions and support the right to freedom of expression” explained Kristie.
Meanwhile, several provisions that need to be considered for the public relations profession include freedom of information flow, competition, disclosure of information, maintaining trust, conflicts of interest, and improving the profession.
“Freedom of information flow means that public relations professionals are responsible to inform decision making and maintain the integrity of the communication process,” she explained.