Do we really need a new book about PR ethics: Yes, and here’s my new one!

Over the past 25-plus years I’ve dedicated much of my academic and professional work to research and writing about ethics in public relations and corporate communications practice, and how it needs to be part of strategy development. Although I believe that this is increasingly a concern, I still think we have a long way to go when it comes to PR and communications practitioners really understanding how to make defensible ethical decisions.  You can imagine, I’m hardly the most popular person at conferences. Just put ‘ethics’ in the title of a conference presentation and you can expect the audience to be filled with the usual suspects: those who attend the ethics presentations every year. Everyone else will be listening to a speaker discuss tactics in the next room.  But I soldier on!

A year and a half ago when a new, fresh acquisitions editor joined Kogan-Page, my wonderful publisher in London, she contacted me to inquire about my interest in producing a third edition of my book Ethics in Public Relations: A Guide to Best Practice. Given my continuing concern about ethical behaviour in our industry, how could I refuse? But before I considered how to update the book, I did a bit of research with people who actually use the book.

I’d love to be able to say I contacted a group of practitioners who refer to it as they are faced with ethical dilemmas, but I’d be hard-pressed to figure out who they are. So I contact a few professors/instructors I knew were assigning it to students — both graduate and undergraduate. Their feedback has informed some of the updates.

The newly published third edition is completely updated with additional material on the changing landscape of PR practice in a world without gatekeepers, and includes a completely new chapter on the ethical quagmires created by social media strategies and tactics. Jason MacKenzie, President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in the UK has described this edition as “…Rooted in reality and pointing to professionalism…readable, digestible and provocative…” It was so important to me to ensure that it would be a book that students and professionals alike might actually read and find useful. In fact, when I considered this new edition, it occurred to me that it was probably an important piece of material for practitioners preparing for their accreditation exams.

With this edition, I’ve also been able to create some additional materials that I believe may be of some value to PR educators & practitioners. I’ve prepared resource lists on ethics readings and pedagogy as well as sample course outlines for both a full-semester undergraduate course and a three-week ethics module that could be incorporated into a foundational PR course. The graduate course outline is in progress (if this interests you just let me know and I’ll email it to you directly in due course). All of these materials are now available on my web site at .

The third edition is now available from my publisher Kogan-Page and you can order it at Amazon internationally (oddly they won’t be able to ship until April 28); it’s also available as an eBook at Chapters-Indigo and in paperback, hard cover and electronically at Barnes & Noble online.

Review copies for educators who are considering adopting it are available by clicking on the inspection copy request button on the book’s web page at If you know educators who might be interested in this, please pass the link on to them.

Please let me know if you find the book useful.


[originally published on LinkedIn]


1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the heads up on this edition. I’ve ordered it, and am hoping it comes in time for me to use it in my social media courses this summer!

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