Is non-profit PR that “clean”?

One of the topics that we are going to debate on is whether “the only way to practice ethical PR is to work in the not-for-profits sector and everything else is just corporate, political or consumer propaganda”.

First of all, before we come to the debate, I have a question. What is ethical PR? Does it mean always be aware of whom we are working for and be honest and loyal to them no matter what, or does it mean we always have to set the public as our priority and then work for their sakes even though it conflicts to our company/organization’s will?

In my opinion, ethically acting or not, normal situations cannot say it all (even though the statement sounds so fine when thinking about it as a PR for non-profit organisation). There must be some crisis going on to check whether it is true that non-profit PR practitioners are that “clean” (as they try to state here. Or do they?)

For example, according to a website, one of the issues that one non-profit organization commonly has to face is Tax Invasion. It said: “Non-profit groups consistently use their status to illegally promote political issues, act in ways that are inconsistent with their stated purpose and fail to report unrelated business income in their annual returns.”

So who helps promote this if that is not the communications department, who did hide the truth so it broke when an out-house comes to do the annual checking? (Of course it broke so we have this article!) If this crisis happened (especially when the law has to swoop in), would the PR practitioner of that organization stand up and ethically critic his/her organization? Or just simply play the loyalty card?

Because as far as I know, the code of ethics by PRCA or CIPR both clearly state that a PR practitioner has to work for the sake of the public, their clients and their company. If one in three was transgressed against, I doubt the ethical value in their work.

In my defence, it is not true that only working in non-profit organizations treasures the value of ethics. It is even more wrong when saying everything else is just propaganda. To me, bragging about the perfect world that some organization is trying to create to attract the sponsor and then do some fraud, evade some tax is more of a perfect propaganda.


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