Tackling The Truth

Abiding by a code of ethics is not always an easy task. It can be especially difficult for public relations professionals in the sports industry. Sports fans demand constant and accurate information about their favorite teams and players. Public relations professionals in this industry must release information quickly to satisfy their fans in order to keep their support, interest, and money. The fast-paced nature of the sports public relations industry opens up many opportunities for ethical issues.

Timing is a major factor in the release of any information in the sport industry. Immediately releasing or withholding information can be a strategic move on the public relations professionals part that can affect sponsorships, suspensions, wins, losses, and other deals. 

Example

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All public relations professional should post carefully because once something is posted it can never really be deleted. The Ravens found this out during the Ray Rice scandal. Photo credit: espn.com

In February 2014, the sports public relation industry had a major ethical dilemma on their hands. The Baltimore Ravens public relations team failed to act ethically in their dissemination of information about former player Ray Rice’s domestic violence scandal. The Ravens released tweets that sided with the abuser, Rice. Additionally, they neglected to release information about the issue, and instead disseminated information about how outstanding Rice’s character is. The Ravens attempted to protect the reputation of their team even when there was substantial evidence, in this case video footage, of Rice’s wrongdoing. Ultimately, this public relations ethical crisis caused extensive damage to Rice, the Ravens and the NFL. Check out the full timeline of the Ravens public responses to the scandal here.

The situation’s magnitude may have caused some professionals to forget about the PRSA Code of Ethics and their own personal credo. If I were presented with the Ray Rice scandal, I believe that my personal credo would have assisted me in acting ethically and avoiding the mistakes made by all the parties involved.

My personal credo is as follows:

“The truth will never go out of style. Learn, live, and create with the betterment of society in mind. Stay humble, work hard and speak honestly.”

The truth will never go out of style

I would have never used superficial tweets to cover up the truth of the matter. I would have released all the information in its truest form to ensure that the public could understand the severity of the actions and how we, the Ravens, were dealing with the situation.

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Many different aspects go into making an ethical decision. It is the culmination of personal and professional values. Photo credit: Google Images

 

The betterment of society

My credo explains that our words and actions have a profound effect on society. Therefore, guided by my credo, I would have released the video of the assault before TMZ had a chance to. Society deserves to know the truth, so we can learn from our mistakes and prevent them from being repeated.

Stay humble, work hard and speak honestly

Put in this situation, I would have worked hard to create good press around the Ravens without suppressing the negative information about the scandal. I would make efforts to donate to domestic violence charities and utilize other players as spokesmen for the NFL’s policy against domestic violence. These actions can support better outcomes than what actually happened.

When it comes down to the heart of the matter, telling the truth is the ethically and morally right thing to do. As public relations professionals, we need to uphold and protect the code of ethics, as well as, hold ourselves and others accountable for unethical actions. In most cases, honesty really is the best policy.

The Ninth Annual Grunig Gala

 

Normally, if given the opportunity to attend a networking event, I would pass. I am aware that this mentality is not the best, but I still do not know what I want to do or what I am passionate, which makes networking a stressful task. However, I attended the Ninth Annual Grunig Gala on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016 at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center and I am extremely glad I went.

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Fellow public relations student Taylor Stark and I utilizing the Grunig Gala’s snapchat filter. Photo credit: Alyssa Zinar

A night of networking

The night began with round table conversations with public relations professionals from esteemed organizations, agencies and corporations. I had a chance to speak with representatives from the Ad Council, Business Wire, the Baltimore Ravens and Edelman Digital. The round table networking made me feel more comfortable because I could gather important information without feeling intimidated.

Measuring what matters

The main event of the night was keynote speaker CEO of Paine Publishing Katie Paine. As a master of social media measurement, Paine addressed the crowd with her speech entitled “What Social Media Can and Cannot Tell You.”

As a future public relations professional, Paine’s speech provided great insights about the importance of social media use for selling a company, service or person. Paine stressed the need to focus on the state of relationships with your followers, fans, and likers. Although the number of impressions may seem like the overall determinant of your social media success, the nature of your relationships is more important. Establishing trust is the key to having favorable social media measurements according to Paine. Trust on social

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Katie Paine delivered her keynote speech to the audience of students, professors and public relations professionals. Photo credit: Alyssa Zinar

media is similar to trust in real life. If a person gives you their cell phone number that is almost equivalent to a follow on Twitter. This means that they are interested in hearing from you, but they may not ever actually reach out, this is an example of a weak relationship. Whereas, a person who texts you everyday is like a person who shares your posts, this is an example of a strong relationship. Strong relationships are the foundation for mastering social media. Paine elaborated on this concept by explaining that these relationships are not owned but earned. You do not own social media, it is simply a tool that you can utilize.

However, as Paine noted, technology cannot differentiate between the meanings and feelings behind different words. So, although social media is a cheaper and faster method for measurement, conducting surveys is still the most accurate measure.

Overall, I enjoyed my evening at the Grunig Gala and learned valuable information from Paine. I look forward to attending the Grunig Gala next year to continue expanding my network.