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July 06, 2011

PRSA: Working with Dictators Threatens Ethical Standards of PR — Boston Globe Letter to the Editor

PRSA had a letter to the editor of the The Boston Globe published July 6, 2011, in response to a July 3, 2011, Boston Sunday Globe front-page article that profiled Boston-based consulting firm Monitor Group and the fallout from revelations in March of its public relations consulting work on behalf of Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy.
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Letter to the Editor: Libya, Syria Should Be Off-Limits to PR
Published: July 6, 2011
 
THE GLOBE’S article “Monitor Group rebuked on Syria; Cambridge firm defends its project to train youth,’’ highlights once again the ethical lapses of this “consulting’’ firm that already has been publicly chided for its spurious public relations efforts on behalf of Libyan tyrant Moammar Khadafy (Page A1, July 3).
 
To state, “We believe that our work [in Syria] made a positive contribution and fervently hope for a peaceful and prosperous future for the citizens of Syria,’’ as did Monitor senior partner Eamonn Kelly, is either boldly disingenuous or frighteningly naïve.
 
Thankfully, the Monitor Group claims it will no longer provide public relations services as part of its consulting practice, in response to the vociferous outrage over the firm’s work for Khadafy. Yet this most recent revelation of the firm’s activities in Syria beg the question: “Will they ever learn?’’
 
Astronomical billing fees apparently hold sway over clear, reasoned, ethical thinking.
 
The Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics implores those offering public relations counsel to “work constantly to strengthen the public’s trust in the profession’’ and in the business community at large.
 
Monitor Group apparently has chosen to ignore this ethical guidance, to its own detriment and that of the public.

Kirk Hazlett, Belmont, Mass.
The writer, a professor of communication at Curry College, is speaking as a board member of the New York-based Public Relations Society of America

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