Hacked Off’s guide to being unethical in PR

Today I had to tell an intern that he is wasting his time in PR as he doesn’t have what it takes. No one wants to be told they are rubbish, but here’s hoping this guy finds another career that suits him better (although who wants to employ someone who can’t get to work on time, is incredibly lazy and has poor social skills?).

Having to play the part of the bad guy got me thinking. In this instance I was being cruel to be kind, but are there other times where being mean pays off? Can dishonest and unethical behaviour ever be justified? Here is a list of the costs/benefits of some questionable actions!

1. Stitching up your colleague. Benefit: By blaming a PR disaster on them, you look good. Cost: They will delight in stitching you up in return.

2. Taking the credit for work that isn’t yours. Benefit: Makes you look more talented. Cost: It is easy to get found out, and then you look terrible. Plus you are under pressure to continue coming up with brilliant ideas.

3. Telling your client that a journalist made a factual error, when actually you sent the wrong information. Benefit: The client may not fire you. Cost: None. As long as client doesn’t do too much investigative work.

4. Running down your competitors. Benefit: If your competitors look bad, the argument is that you look better. Cost: You have to be very careful to do this subtly. Why should a client want to appoint someone who badmouths others?

5. Exploiting staff: Benefit: Cheap labour. Cost: Miserable staff won’t stay long, and the cost of replacing them can be hideous.