Monday, August 25, 2008

Reading Response Week 6

In summary, the key points that I have learned from this week’s readings are that public relations practitioners must always be mindful of their decisions, those of their colleagues and the person(s) or organisation(s) they represent when planning and carrying out a public relations campaign so as to adhere to the bodies of law and ethics that have been set in place by lawmakers and the collective of practicing public relations professionals in order to govern their actions and protect the public.

According to Johnston and Zawawi (2004) it is wise for public relations practitioners to not only remain vigilant but also proactive in creating stratagem that serve to diminish the probability of legal repercussions that may arise as a result of actions they have carried out. Four important bodies of law that public relations practitioners should familiarise themselves with are the tort of defamation, the tort of negligence, intellectual property law and contract law.

The tort of defamation prohibits any publication that may adversely affect the reputation of an individual or organization. The tort of negligence stipulates the responsibilities of professionals to their clients and to the general public. Unlike real, personal property law, intellectual property law aims to protect the creative ideas of an individual or organisation rather than ownership of land and things considered a part of that land such as a home. Contract law plays an integral part in the field of public relations as contracts delineate the roles and obligations of each party in a public relations campaign that generally adhere to predetermined time constraints.

My learning builds upon previous learning about public relations in that I knew public relations practitioners were subject to bodies of law and codes of ethics just like everybody else however I had not been previously educated on the particular bodies of law that professionals must pay the most attention to.

2 comments:

Amanda Beardsworth said...

I agree with you that while I knew PR practitioners must have a set of laws which govern what they can and cannot legally do, I was unsure of what these actual laws and regulations were before I read chapter four-the legal environment.
Some of the legal concepts and regulations are fairly complex. For instance, a PR practitioner could participate in defamation without even meaning to. The example Johnston and Zawawi give is if a publication praised one researcher in a project but not the other.
It gets even more complicated in that the law identifies the victim of defamation by how an audience interprets the information.
This does not seem fair to me. If a public is uneducated or unaware they have the power to put severe legal ramifications on a PR firm.
While I understand the law is simply trying to protect individuals some points in it seem very unfair and tricky to me.

Joshua Blodgett said...

Amanda-

Thanks for your comments. The law is certainly not as simple as black and white. It does seem rather ridiculous that neglecting to praise one person while praising another falls under the category of defamation and that the law identifies the victim of defamation in a way that is subject to the possible interpretation of uneducated individuals. That is why it is so important for public relations practitioners to make sure they have a comprehensive knowledge of the law that governs their profession so as to protect themselves as best they can.