Navigating the Tightrope: Public Relations Ethics and Privacy in Conflict

Adaoha Njemanze is the Founder/Principal Consultant at NOVVA Media & Communications.


Maintaining ethical practices in Public Relations is crucial, not just for the profession’s integrity but also for building trust and maintaining a positive reputation. Sometimes, the path becomes incredibly challenging when client privacy and transparency clash in some projects. Some case studies often showcase these conflicts, highlighting the delicate balance Public Relations professionals must achieve.

While respecting client privacy is paramount, transparency cannot be abandoned entirely. Ethical issues and potential privacy concerns, even if stemming from client directives, cannot be ignored. Ignoring them not only exposes you to personal and professional risks but also damages your ethical standing and jeopardises the firm’s reputation.

So, how does one navigate this tightrope? Here are some key strategies:

Open Communication: Establish open and honest communication with the client from the outset. Discuss potential ethical and privacy concerns proactively, clarifying boundaries and expectations. Explain the risks of non-transparency and the value of upholding ethical standards.



Seek Collaboration: Work with clients to find solutions that balance their privacy needs with responsible communication. Explore alternative approaches, suggest creative strategies, and be prepared to push back when necessary respectfully.

Document Everything: Thoroughly document your discussions, decision-making processes, and actions about the potential conflict. This creates a clear record for your protection and helps maintain transparency within the firm.

Seek External Guidance: Do not hesitate to seek external guidance from industry organisations, ethics experts, or legal counsel when facing complex ethical dilemmas. Their objective perspective can offer valuable insights and help you navigate the situation ethically.

Prepare for Tough Choices: Be prepared to walk away if the client insists on unethical or compromising actions. While client loyalty is essential, your own ethical integrity and professional credibility come first. Remember, protecting your reputation and upholding ethical standards ultimately serve the well-being of the profession and your clients in the long run.



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