Uh-oh, some PR students think they’re ‘supposed to lie’

A PR writing teacher uncovered a disturbing trend among the PR industry’s future practitioners. See how schools are tackling the problem.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

It began simply enough: a conversation about ethics with freshman and sophomore university students in my PR writing class.

Then, one young woman said that it was OK to be dishonest because “PR people are supposed to lie.” At least six other students nodded their heads in agreement.

Uh-oh, I thought. We have a problem.

Two things struck me about her comment. First, I was surprised by which student had said this—one of the brightest in the class. Second, these students were PR majors who saw lying as an accepted practice in their chosen profession.

I wondered why they held that opinion and how others felt about it, so I posted the comment on LinkedIn’s PRSA National discussion board and received more than 100 responses. Most writers passionately spoke of the need to always be truthful, posting comments like “Absolutely not!” and “Never!” But some comments also mentioned the lack of ethics education and training for young professionals.

The source of misinformation

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.