Monday, November 08, 2004


PR practitioners are not in the job of dictating values, but they should be sensitive to them. Values are an essential element to communications.

Thus, it is interesting to read of the conflict about values -- the contention that the Democratic party doesn't understand the values of Red states. I'm no expert, nor do I want to be, but it seems there has been a divergence from a value system built around Judaeo-Christian ethics -- the 10 commandments, if you please. Certainly, the original Constitution was written by men who held the values of the Decalogue. That value system ruled for the better part of 200 years in the US with bitter differences, such as the right to own another human as property.

As the 20th Century progressed and diversity in the national population increased, it appears the values system for many became what the Supreme Court decides more than what 10 commandments stipulate. Hence in the 21st Century, we seem to have one-half of the country with a sharply different values system than the other half. I have no idea whether this interpretation is correct but it is useful -- for me anyway.

As a PR practitioner, I know I should not enter Kansas with the mindset of a liberal New Yorker. No one would understand the message I bring. We use the same words but have fundamentally different meanings. To me, a civil union rather than marriage for gays might be acceptable. To someone else, that is an unforgivable breach of a line that should be hard and fast in the history of Western ethics.

We are sensitive to differences in value systems the world over, and it is ironic that we seem to have overlooked our own country. This election is a reminder that we need to monitor differences and make sure they don't get in the way of client objectives.

But what about our own value systems? Should we make them known? For the most part, I don't think so. However, if a client is doing something that contradicts our beliefs, we have a decision to make as PR practitioners -- whether to bend principles or to leave. This is the challenge all whistleblowers have. It's never simple and never easy.


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