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Business Ethics: An Oxymoron?

Why do I believe good PR and business ethics are inextricably linked? It comes down to definitions. Ethics is learning what is right and what is wrong and then doing the "right thing." PR involves providing counsel on the "right thing" to do and then helping the organization get credit for it.

The business and political excess of the last 10 years have taken some PR practitioners to the dark side because they felt it was the only way for their company to profit. Although I personally believe doing right for right's sake is enough, there are some who may not share this view. OK, here's a reason that any good capitalist can embrace: research now shows that socially responsible behavior is good for the bottom line.

A recent analysis of overall financial performance of the 2001 list of 100 Best Corporate Citizens shows that this group of firms did significantly better than the remaining companies of the S&P 500. Professors at DePaul University found that the mean ranking of the 100 Best was more than 10 percentile higher than the other firms of the S&P 500.

Additionally, they had a significantly better reputation among corporate directors and security analysts based upon results of the Fortune Magazine survey of most admired companies.

So, you see, it really does pay to do the right thing.

Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR. He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Levolor, New World Mortgage, North Carolina Tourism, TeamHeidi, Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, VELUX, Verbatim and Youth Link USA.

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