PR Law

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Random thought...

Last night my boyfriend’s roommate sauntered into the kitchen where he shared with us some sobering information about his job. I cannot divulge the details of conversation, as it is very serious subject involving his safety, but it made me think about prisoners’ rights.

The conversation made me wonder what rights prisoners should be allowed while in jail. I mean, when I got into trouble when I was little my mom sent me to time-out, and I while in time-out I had to sit there in the corner, no playtime, no talking, no coloring or tv, just sitting there thinking about what I had done wrong. And, then in middle school and high school, if I was grounded, I had to sit in my room, no friends, no phone, no movies or tv, just sitting there thinking about what I did wrong.

But, my offenses were nowhere close to the offenses of these prisoners. So, why is it when I was in time-out or grounded, I couldn’t do any of the things I listed before, but men and women who violate the laws of this country can?

Just a thought to ponder on over the break…

Cosmopolitanism...where can it take us?

Where can we cosmopolitanism take us in public relations?

Appiah suggests that we should have a universal moral compass that the community shares, which is free from local prejudices and composed of many nationalities to form a global mindset.

There are so many people we walk past everyday without even noticing. Why? More than likely because they are strangers. Their people who you don’t normally think of, but, in reality they are people you should get to know. We have a responsibility to strangers.

Appiah says that when we know about a problem and can do something directly about it, we should. I agree with him about not throwing our hands up in the dispair.

My mom always tells me that I worry too much about everyone elses problems. Sometimes I’ll get lost in thought for hours about the struggles that friends or family are having. Appiah suggests however that “the pressing needs of the planet do not require us to abandon our own lives.” I absolutely love the way this is phrased, mostly because it is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

“We need clear-headedness, not heroism.”

Got Beer?

PETA is known for rocking the boat with its controversial protests, but when its over the top "Got Beer?" campaign drew complaints from MADD, it was forced to change its strategy.

MADD was furious with PETA for running a campaign that practically promoted youths to consume alcohol. PETA calmed it was a way to reach out to the college-age students, but it obviously neglected to take into consideration the affects of alcohol and the higher number of alcohol-related accidents on college campuses.

PETA pulled the campaign resolving its officials believed it was ethical. So didn’t PETA just apologize? Because it’s PETA. An organization that is great a stirring up trouble and drawing negative attention. The folks over at PETA must have adopted the Paris Hilton montra for press, which is along the lines of any press is good press, even if its bad.

MADD still feels this campaign violated what they stand for, something you would think PETA would understand.

warranted Schadenfruede

While taking another journalism class earlier this year, I learned the word Schadenfruede, which is a malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortune of others. Why is it that humans typically feel better about their lives after witnessing tragedy or betrayal in other people's lives?

The O.J. Simpson case, the Scott Peterson case, the Michael Jackson case. What do all of these have in common? High ratings brought on by what? The satisfaction obtained from watching their possible downfalls.
However, there are some instances when the misfortune of others, like the outcomes of the Enron case, should warrant a sense of satisfaction from onlookers.

I didn’t know how exactly California’s rolling blackouts were caused by Enron, but after watching the documentary and learning that they were caused by Enron’s greed, I was began to understand the appeal of Schadenfruede experimenting by cutting electricity in areas to raise the stock prices. Enron executives had growing pockets thanks to the millions of Californians who were having to pay ridiculously high electric bills as a result of the raised prices.

Ken Lay and Jeffery Skillings have to be the smartest dumb people I’ve ever had the luxury of extremely disliking.

Aggie goes to Washington

Former CIA director, Robert Michael Gates, is the current nominee for Secretary of Defense. Gates who is being called an “agent of change,” is "expected to be more inclined to consensus-building than the combative Rumsfeld.”

Gates served for four years as president of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The university, ironically known for the Corps of Cadets, apropo considering the he’s been nominated for, is also home to George Bush, Sr.’s Presidential Library. Prior to becoming A&M’s president, Gates was the interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Services at Texas A&M University from 1999 to 2001.

“As the university president, Gates made significant progress in four key areas of the university's "Vision 2020" plan, a plan to become one of the top 10 public universities by the year 2020,” according to Wikipedia.

Let’s hope that Gates can do the same thing in Iraq. The last thing we need is another lame duck, especially when lives are being lost daily because of this war.

Horned frogs vs. Aggies

I find it sadly ironic that we are studying to go into the world of public relations, but the majority of us haven’t the slightest idea of what is going in the community surrounding us. Whatever the reasons might be, it can be refreshing to step back and look around at the people we pass in the halls daily.

In doing so today, I met 24-year-old, Glenn Hampton. Double majoring in kinesiology and public relations, Glenn, who is from Ft. Worth, has aspirations of becoming a girl’s softball coach. As Glenn and I talked today in class, I found out we have a plethora of things in common. I also found that we have a few differences as well.

Here are some of our similarities:
College football fanatics – we both turn on ESPN every Saturday morning to listen to the pre-game banter, followed by a day of good old fashioned college football.
Public School
Little sisters
PR majors
A deep love and appreciation for Jacque Lambiase

Here are some of our differences:
Glenn’s a TCU fan, while I’m a devoted Aggie
In addition to going to public school, I went to a Catholic school for five years
His dad is a chiropractor, while mine is a regional facilities manager
He is Baptist, and obviously I am Catholic
RA at Victory, while I ran screaming from dorm and never looked back at the end of my freshmen year.

Burger King's fat in bed the A.D.A.?

After reading New York Times article about the A.D.A., I came the conclusion it is taking the initiative to ensure its sponsors are more heavily scrutinized, prior to slapping its logo on products.

When I read the article for the first time, I was shocked though that it was even considering a relationship with Burger King. The fact that the A.D.A. let negotiations linger on for a year before concluding it was a poor decision is preposterous.

I agree with Santora. The fast-food industry is different. An industry, I’m sure, can be attributed to this nation’s overflowing number of diabetics, has no business building a relationship with the A.D.A. This is one of the A.D.A.’s biggest enemies in the fight against diabetes.

I was also unnerved that the A.D.A’s executive committee held their meeting at the W Hotel. The thousands of Americans who have been diagnosed with diabetes cannot afford their medication, let alone a stay at the W. I believe that money could have been put to better use.

Everyone does it...

As I sat in class Wednesday listening to my peers debate whether it is ethical for liquor companies to donate money to MADD, I sat in silence for a little while. I knew that if I spoke up too soon, I risked becoming emotional. It's sad to say, but it's a great possibility everyone in this class has witnessed some form of alcohol abuse in their life. Mine occurred when I was only nine years old, after I lost my aunt, my dad's only sister, to a drunk driving car accident.

I had to hold my breath when a classmate excused this situation, saying, "everyone does it." Everyone does it?! Prior to the Civil War, everyone in the South owned slaves. Therefore, if we follow classmate’s theory, since everyone was doing it, I guess it’s fair to say that, by his standards, slavery is okay.

I may not be the best or brightest student, but I do know writing off bad ethical choices by saying, “Well, everyone does it,” is not what God had intended. Nor is it what higher education strives to teach us.

If MADD wants to accept money from liquor companies, it should be open and honest about where the money is coming from, and it should put the money towards programs that demystify alcohol. It should use the money to educate teenagers about the good and bad that come with alcohol consumption.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Codes of Ethics

Throughout the month of August, my mentor and I brainstormed and attended meeting after meeting with various departments to find the best possible channels to deliver our company’s Code of Conduct to all of our employees.

There were ethical concerns about the means to get employees to sign the code in a timely manner, which meant we had to ensure that each employee knew exactly when the code was to be signed by. We wanted to eliminate the threat of last minute pressure from their supervisors, which could affect the answers employees give about their department’s ethical practices.

In addition, I was able to attend the Aug. 10, 2006, PRSA luncheon in Dallas, where John Bourke of Bourke & Associates was the keynote speaker. His company specializes in strategic planning, organizational culture change, executive coaching, workforce training and development and employee selection, development and retention.

Bourke is a Master Certified Trainer in Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations, which was the topic of the luncheon. Many of his key points highlighted ethical businesses practices from a “utilitarianistic” standpoint. He promoted finding the greater good for the greatest amount of people in the work place, stating that it would help to lessen tension creating a more conducive work environment.

During the luncheon, we were given a card with the PRSA member code of ethics. Printed on the back is the Public Relations Ethics Decision-Making Guide, which states the following points:
  1. define the ethical issue
  2. identify influential factors
  3. identify the key values
  4. identify parties who will be affected by the decision and the
  5. professional’s obligation to each
  6. select ethical principals to guide the decision-making process
  7. make a decision and justify

Also, on the PRSA website it states, “Emphasis on enforcement of the Code has been eliminated. But, the PRSA Board of Directors retains the right to bar from membership or expel from the Society any individual who has been or is sanctioned by a government agency or convicted in a court of law of an action that is in violation of this Code.”

The greatest good for the greatest number of people? I think so!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Poof! How to Disappear and Create a New Identity

How does the founder of a major telecommunications company hide hundreds of millions of dollars from Washington D.C. tax collectors and even the IRS for years? Apparently, all you need to do is buy a few offshore corporations, say in the British Virgin Islands, and keep a plethora of bank accounts and presto!

Authorities are calling Walter Anderson’s tax evasion and fraud case the nation's largest criminal tax case in history. Anderson, who pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion and one count of fraud, was linked to at least seven different aliases after officials retrieved documents from his apartment.

Seven? It's hard enough keeping up with my own true identity sometimes, let alone seven.

They also found manuals describing how to hide from the authorities. Including, "Poof! How to Disappear and Create a New Identity." I mean, honestly “Poof?” You'd think the writer could have come up with a more sophisticated title. I wonder if it had a chapter on fair business practices?

Can you imagine this guy walking out of Barnes & Noble carrying “The ID Forger: Homemade Birth Certificates and Other Documents Explained” in one hand a grande Starbuck’s latte in the other? He might as well have hung a neon sign over his head that flashed, “I’M A LIAR & A THEIF! SOMEBODY PLEASE ARREST ME!”

As I was reading this article, I keep thinking to myself, "I wonder if Anderson's companies have a code of conduct?" Ha! Doubt it! But, wouldn't be ironic if they did?

In the first chapter of our book, it asks if corporations should have ethical responsibilities, and if so do the individuals within these corporations be morally responsible as well? Obviously, the answer is yes. So, why did Walter Anderson believe he could get away with hiding the $450 million he earned from 1995 to 1999? Who the heck knows?

Anderson must have missed have out on the self-moralizing corporation movement that happened in the late 1970’s, “which stressed individual moral behavior within the organization and the development of a moral culture.”

So, here it is almost 40 years, $170 million in federal taxes, $40 million in Washington income taxes and a possible 10 years in prison, later. All I want to know is, was it really worth it, Walter?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060908/ap_on_bi_ge/taxes_telecom;_ylt=Apl9eEYejd9kxVokvgcZ0EqyBhIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA0cDJlYmhvBHNlYwM-