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As Michael Winkleman described public relations professionals and educators are currently engaged in a vigorous discussion of the role of ethics within the profession and the means by which ethics can be taught to both public relations students and professionals According to Winkleman the rise in concern over ethical issues can be traced to the reaction of the profession to events in the 1980s which included high-profile instances of insider-trading and covert government foreign policy activities In addition the ethical debate is thriving because corporations have realized that they have to pay more attention to social demands and be more responsive to stakeholders This realization has paralleled the move from theoretical ethics to applied ethics Winklemans conclusion is that ethics are crucial for public relations because they will benefit the profession and the companies for which the public relations work Ultimately ethics are good for business In addition there is empirical evidence suggesting that public relations professionals basing their decision-making and recommendations to management on ethical principles and social responsibility are more likely to have a greater role in management decisions and activities The result of this concern over ethics in the public relations field has resulted in a vigorous debate over the pros and cons of a universal ethics code Many writers agree despite their differences that not only does ethical decision-making give public relations professionals more opportunities to participate in the management function but it also assists the development of public relations as a profession Ethics and social responsibility are also vital issues in public relations because public relations facilitates communication among the company and its many publics including society at large As Pratt notes there are three main points that result from all the empirical research conducted on practitioner ethics First they underscore the notion that ethics is an important issue practitioners confront Second they suggest that practitioners cannot ignore public and industry wide evaluation of their professional ethics and that
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