5 lessons in ethics from PR disasters

Tempted to skirt PRSA guidelines in order to get ahead? These missteps show what could happen if you do.

This summer—five years after the massive disaster of BP’s oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico—the company was ordered to pay an $18.7 billion settlement.

It’s the largest penalty that a single company has ever had to pay, and many PR pros wonder how much it will damage BP’s brand—or whether it will ultimately sink the company.

The crisis brought on by negligence made many question the company’s motives and ethics, and it’s still a cautionary tale for communications professionals.

Let’s look at cases in which other PR pros violated ethical guidelines in order to advance their organizations’ means. Here are five lessons in ethics from recent PR debacles:

1. National Football League: Looking the other way won’t get you far.

When a video surfaced showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée in a hotel elevator, a crisis unfolded in the NFL.

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