As I enter week six of my last fall quarter of college, I have been reflecting on some of the most important takeaways from the journalism school. One topic that all of my teachers have drilled into our heads is the importance of ethics in the workforce. I decided it would be in my best interest to start researching the way large public relations firms follow a code of ethics and handle this code of ethics internationally. I specifically decided to focus in on Edelman.
Edelman is the world’s largest public relations firm, with business in 23 different countries in the world. Engagement with this amount of the world requires a large amount of ethical responsibility. What might be ethical in one culture could be completely unacceptable in another culture. Edelman follows a strict code of ethics, in which it requires employees to sign when they join the Edelman team. Requiring employees to stick to the same code of ethics is not only smart, but it allows the businesses and people that Edelman serves to be aware of the company’s transparency.
If I’ve learned one thing about ethics in the journalism school at U of O, it is that transparency is key to maintaining an ethically strong company. Allowing your audience to see how your organization operates, your strategic processes, and your intentions behind every action is key in gaining trust and loyalty from your clients.
In 2006, Edelman got nailed by a blogger for not presenting sufficient transparency when it came to a case with Walmart. The case had to do with funding for a national tour. Learning from this incident, Edelman then developed a code of ethics to follow and require every employee to sign. As I looked further into this case, I was impressed with Edelman’s ability to learn quickly from this ethical mistake. As the leading PR agency in the world, it is Edelman’s responsibility to represent the highest standard of ethics. Unfortunately the team at Edelman had to learn that one the hard way.