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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ethical dilemmas faced in public relations

Every day, public relations practitioners face ethical dilemmas from their clients, the media and/or coworkers. Knowing how to handle these ethical issues with poise and grace elevates a PR practitioner’s professionalism and expertise. In my area of interest, media relations, the ability to quickly identify and solve ethical issues is vital to succeed in public relations.

Got ethics ?

Understanding ethical guidelines is very important in public relations


In media relations, a public relations professional works with media outlets to inform the public about an organization’s mission, policies and practices. However, a media relations specialist also handles his or her client’s crisis communication by erasing any negativity surrounding the client through mass media. An example of this may occur if the client deceived the public about his or her organization or product, and the PR specialist must now work with the media to improve his or her client’s image.

Deception may also occur when a reporter uses undercover tactics to reveal personal or corporate information. A reporter should only use deception if there is no other alternative to getting the information, no innocent people are put at risk and the information has overriding public importance (Rich, 310).


In media relations, public relations professionals may be tempted to give news outlets gifts to ensure their client’s stories are printed or broadcasted. Likewise, media outlets may also give a PR professional gifts to ensure that he or she will exclusively bring stories to that particular station or publication before others. According to PRSA ethics code, gifting is unethical because “we must not allow coverage to be bought or influenced by favors” (Bowles, 155).


PR professionals should not participate in gift exchanges with clients and/or media to avoid unethical practices

Conflicts of Interest

It is important that a PR practitioner does not have conflicting viewpoints or opinions with the organization he or she represents. Conflicts of interest can affect the quality of work produced by the PR professional. For example, if a media relations specialist has liberal political views and works for a conservative politician, he or she may not promote his or her client’s campaigns to decrease that politician’s success (Bowles, 157).


Design can make or break a newsletter 

Everyday, we see newspapers, magazines, billboards and advertising signs. Each publication uses a different design and layout specialized for its audience, hoping to capture readers’ attention.

Specifically, a newsletter must be visually appealing, and easy to read to communicate with readers. A newsletter with an organized layout design will aid in communication by moving readers through the page with ease, emphasizing important stories. A well-designed newsletter has the ability to effortlessly convey important and interesting information to readers, and capture readers’ interest in a publication.

Many aspects contribute to a successful newsletter's layout and design

Many aspects contribute to a successful newsletter’s layout and design

Balance baby!

A key aspect to the design of a newsletter is balance. Balance can be achieved through matching identical elements, such as copy, headlines, photos and colors, on the right side of the page to the left side. This is called formal balance. Due to its rigid structure, copy editors have to prioritize form over content, making formal balance unfavorable. Instead, copy editors tend to favor informal balance, which is achieved by matching weights of the elements on the page (Bowles, 2011). Additionally, contrast, proportion and unity must also be considered.

Keep it simple

Because many newsletters have limited space, it is easy for stories to blend together. However, a good layout and design can prevent any confusion among readers. Paul Swift, editor of The Newsletter on Newsletters says, “The soul of newsletters-in both design and editorial content- is simplicity.” Using hairline borders and white space around stories can help keep readers organized while reading.

newsletter layouts

Copy editors have many options to chose from to achieve organization and balance in their newsletters

Layout and design for my newsletter

My newsletter will pertain to the Mighty Sound of Maryland Marching Band, and target current and prospective members of the band. To achieve a cohesive, easy to read newsletter, I will design my newsletter keeping balance, contrast, proportion and unity in mind.

From our lecture on InDesign, I learned that the human eye is attracted to visuals. So, to keep my reader interested in reading the whole page, I will alternate graphics from left to right, starting from the top of the page, and ending at the bottom.

I will use red and yellow colors to match the university’s theme, and to also attract the reader’s eye to certain words or headlines I want to emphasize. Color adds life to the newsletter, and can excite and attract readers to certain sections. The key is to appropriately and tastefully use color, with out cluttering the design.