Ethics Challenges in Technology PR
Laura Kempke of digital experience company Acquia was recently interviewed for EthicalVoices, a site dedicated to covering ethics issues in public relations.
The topic of technology PR is relevant to anyone hoping to reach tech buyers, so we thought we’d share a part of that interview here:
…One of the common refrains [in this industry] is, “Everybody else is lying and everybody else embellishing. If we don’t do it, we’re going to be at a competitive disadvantage.” What’s your reaction to that or how do you address that point from the executives?
Laura Kempke: I would, and have, told them point-blank, “I don’t believe that everybody else is lying. I think that it is common, to sort of stretch it or be very optimistic about your projections as to where you’re going with the product or a roadmap, but it’s one thing to kind of give people a directional view into where you’re going and it’s something completely different to say that something is the case when it simply isn’t.”
I always encourage people to understand is that despite the reputation, public relations is actually not lying most of the time. In fact, as communicators, we’re trying to never lie.
That is what we strive for. When we do come up against something like that where it’s not spin, it’s not messaging, it’s not, “Yeah, we thought we were going this way and we went that way.”
It’s these really rare occasions in your career where you’re confronted with something that really did sort of put you at that kind of crossroads where you had to do a gut check and say, “Is this something I believe in because I don’t want to be a part of something that is misleading somebody?”
Even if that’s something that feels iniquitous, it feels small, that’s it’s not cool, it’s not right, and it creates a difficult situation that isn’t necessarily going to be easier over time.