North Texas Daily

The public relations ethics of Kellyanne Conway

The public relations ethics of Kellyanne Conway

The public relations ethics of Kellyanne Conway
March 06
19:45 2017

Kara Jobmann | Contributing Writer

Public relations professionals are some of the most skilled workers out there. They are persuasive, and can oscillate between news writing, op-eds, press releases and advisories. They know how to communicate, handle stress well and be stagnant in the face of an issue.

There are two things that have always stuck out to me when learning and practicing public relations: the importance of ethics and the relationship that you build with the media.   

Ethics are defined as a set of guiding morals or principles that define what is right and wrong to a person. We all have our own ethics, and they guide us through life, decisions, cover-ups and yes, a defense of an administration that has lied to the American public more than once.

Ethics are not objective. Every human has a different life experience that influences their bias and moral code.

While there are universal truths – such as murder being bad – ethics are constantly debated in the PR world, although that world is increasingly becoming a field of transparency. Although true PR professionals aspire for truth and an informed public, Kellyanne Conway does not.

Conway, a counselor to the president, is a treasure trove of dos and don’ts for PR professionals. How Conway hasn’t fainted from the lack of sleep, which I’m sure she doesn’t get, is an anomaly.

There’s a part of me that admires her. Who else would have stuck by this administration, for this long and through this much? I’m sure she has to be somewhat fed up with President Donald Trump’s inability to control his mouth, Twitter tantrums, ego or lies.

Conway has defended this man through things that would have sent the best PR professionals running, and rightfully so. Trump’s administration has been, for lack of a better word, a nightmare.

Blindly following a leader while continually spinning and lying about his horrible deeds makes us wonder if Conway even has a set of ethics. If she does, does it somehow line up perfectly with everything Trump does? Is this why she is so willing and able to defend his honor at the very expense of her own?

Well, the idea that Conway and Trump have the same set of ethics is virtually impossible. Conway did not get “a small loan of a million dollars” to start an empire. They went to different colleges and were raised by very different families, Conway’s father owning a small trucking company while Trump’s was a real estate developer in New York.

There is no way that Conway and Trump have similar ethics. Since ethics vary from sibling to sibling, the assumption that Conway and Trump have different morals is not a far leap.

This woman has stuck by Trump through a whole slew of shortcomings and has never once expressed any disdain or regret for the insane things he has said. She follows him blindly, promotes him blindly and defends him blindly.

Two minutes into the CNN interview below, Conway begins spinning by saying the U.S wasn’t “innocent” when she was asked how Trump felt about Russia and Putin. This begins at the two minute mark.

Public relations professionals need to be guided by a solid moral compass. We need to have the ability to say no to lying or spinning in the face of a scandal, and decide on the way of truth. We have to be able to say no, but we also cannot run away anytime something bad happens.

During times of trial, we look to our ethics to guide us. PR professionals need to remove themselves from the situation so we can think logically and ethically. At some point it isn’t “just business” anymore. At every turn we need to have the integrity and dignity to decline the offer and walk away.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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