“The importance of Public Relations Practitioners protecting public interest and serving the PR profession.” University of Victoria 2012
Introduction to Ethics Ethics refers to the standards of conduct which indicates how one should behave Values however, are ‘central beliefs based upon moral duties and virtues which determine how we will behave arising from principles of right and in certain situations.’ wrong. Public relations professions also have the burden of making ethical decisions that take into consideration (1) the public interest, (2) the employer’s self- What are the standards of the public interests, (3) the standards of the public relations profession in Canada? relations profession, and (4) their personal values.
Canadian Public Relations Society Code of Professional Standards Code of Professional Standards (excerpts) A member shall practice public relations according to CPRS Public Relations the highest professional standards....with respect for Definition the rights of the public as contained in the Constitution Public relations is the of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse A member shall deal fairly and honestly with the publics, through the use of communications media and the public. communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals A member shall practice the highest standards ofand serve the public interest. honesty, accuracy, integrity and truth, and shall not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information. ...Members shall not engage in professional or personal conduct that will bring discredit to themselves, the Society or the practice of public relations.
Canadian Public Relations Society Practices A Strategic Practice that is An Ethical Practice that is Managed and accountable, Aligned with Transparent, Accountable, In the public the overall goals and objectives of the interest, Built on integrity and organizations we serve, Intentional and independence deliberate, Measurable and relevant Communications in Social Media “...This policy applies to all members of the Canadian Public Relations Society at Social media can be defined as online all times, including, but not limited to:technologies, tools and applications that The member is acting as an individual; onare used to share information, opinions, behalf of an employer or client; on behalf expertise, insights and interests using of and/or in conjunction with CPRS text, images, audio and video in a and/or any of its task forces or participatory environment. committees...”
An Example to ConsiderThe Northern Gateway Project is a proposed 1,176-km twinpipeline system and marine terminal. The proposed project,currently under regulatory review, would transport 525,000barrels per day (bpd) of oil for export and import 193,000 bpdof condensate. (Northern Gateway News) Enbridge hired experienced North American firm Hill and Knowlton to create a video ad showing the route the pipeline would take from Bruderheim in Central Alberta to Kitimat on the Northwest coast of BC. This video was released on December 11, 2011. However… When designer Lori Waters watched the new video from Enbridge oil detailing the route for its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, something was missing. About 1000 square kilometres of something, to be exact. This video followed: (Right click and “Open Hyperlink)
Hill and Knowlton Code of Professional ConductHill & Knowlton Strategies Code of Professional Conduct defines the standards and behavior that is expected fromevery employee…Please take the time to read it, understand it and live it. It is the gold standard of behavior weexpect from all at Hill & Knowlton Strategies.As issues and problems become more complex, clients look to us for advice on how to effectively communicate withall stakeholders across a global economy. Our advice and recommendations have the power to help resolve thetough challenges our clients face. Yet now, more than ever, achieving real and measurable client impact demands wemeet a higher standard. By living our values we will attain these important goals. Each of us will decide what thesevalues mean to us personally, but we all must subscribe to the same high level of professional conduct.Clients shall be served to the highest professional standards of excellence. ..All communications should be honest incontent, candid and accurate.Employees shall deal fairly and honestly with the media, government and the public. Employees shall not actimproperly to influence the media, the public or government bodies. We will practice openness and full disclosure inour work.Employees must be honest and accurate. No one shall disseminate false or misleading information. No one shallmake insupportable claims or comparisons, or assume credit for ideas and words not their own.
Hill and Knowlton Code of Professional Conduct?With 50 offices in 20 countries and affiliations with more than 70 associate companies, Hill and Knowlton is one of theworlds largest public relations firms. ..Guardian journalist George Monbiot describes Hill and Knowlton as “the publicrelations company famous for the unsavoury nature of its clients…advised the Chinese government in the wake of theTianenmen massacre, set up lobby groups for the tobacco companies and coached the girl who told the false story aboutKuwaiti babies being thrown out of incubators, which helped to launch the first Gulf war.” According to Spin Watch, “Thefirm helped in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident" and "has worked forgovernments with appalling human rights records, including Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Morocco.” (Nanaimo Ne ws)”One of the most notable headlines was the representation of “Citizens for a Free Kuwait” by well-known public relationsfirm Hill and Knowlton, who created false testimony delivered to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CorporateWatch). News broke later that the Kuwaiti government sponsored this front group in order to convince the US to enter the1992 Gulf War. Critics (Stauber & Rampton, 1995) charge that Hill and Knowlton was successful in this effort because of itsdisregard for ethics. In the wake of this controversy, one Hill & Knowlton executive notoriously reminded staff: “We’drepresent Satan if he paid.” (Institute for Pbulic Relations)Public relations professionals acknowledged that the troubles surrounding Hill & Knowlton tarnished the reputation of theindustry as a whole, prompting calls for PR firms and their employees to be held accountable for failing to adhere to thecode of ethics prescribed by the Public Relations Society of America, the industrys largest membership group. The PRSAscode of ethics requires members to report ethical violations when they occur, and the PRSA board has the power todiscipline or expel members for failing to live up to its code, however, membership in the PRSA is not a prerequisite forpracticing as a PR counsel. (Ethics In PR)
Examples of Ethics in Motion • Examples of Positive Ethical Management within Canada.
The Province of British ColumbiaPRSA Code of Conduct: Core Principle Open communication fosters informed decision making in a democratic society.Intent: “To build trust with the public by revealing all information needed for responsible decision making.”Enbridge is now struggling to rebuild the trust of BC, in part because of its questionable ethics.Basic summary of BC perspective and Ethics in public relations: Christy Clark is a representative of the people of BC. She is responsible for making decision on their behalf and must make them ethically according to the majority public’s values. She must please a vast array of groups and reassure them along the decision making process. Groups like: Coastal First Nations, Environmental groups, and the Province of BC.BC’s Course of Action: BC has taken to negotiating via press releases. The purpose in doing this is to communicate to citizens that they are setting the bar high for the standards that Enbridge needs to meet.Enbridge’s Course of Action: Enbridge is more than willing to negotiate and work with the BC government to come up with the answer to the environmental problem. They are wanting to sit down with them and negotiate in a constructive manner in an attempt to please both parties.Where the problem Lies: BC’s demands have not been met by Enbridge on the first three of their five demands that concern environmental reviews and prevention plans.BC’s five demands are: Environmental review needs to be passed. World-leading marine oil spill prevention, response. World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response. First Nations opportunities, treaty rights respected. Fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits for B.C.
The Province of Alberta“Yet now, more than ever, achieving real and measurable client impact demands we meet a higher standard.”Enbridge’s representational video does not represent the Government or people of Alberta.An already complicated situation is made worse by breaches of ethics.ALBERTA PUBLIC OPINIONRespondents were asked whether they believed wealth generated from the Alberta oil sands benefits all Canadians: Regionally,Albertans were most likely to agree (74%). Support for the pipeline was highest in Alberta (63%). Regionally, there was a sharpdifference of opinion between Albertans and the rest of Canada. Two in three Albertans (66%) believed that Christy Clark’sultimatum was wrong Albertans believe the rest of Canada benefits from their energy resources and strongly support theNorthern Gateway Pipeline to help get that resource to new markets compared with over seven in ten Canadians in the rest of thecountry who thought the BC Premier was right in her demands.ALBERTA`S POSITION – NORTHERN GATEWAY PIPELINEHeadlines read: “Redford, Clark make little progress at frosty meeting: Alberta, B.C. premiers each say other needs to move onNorthern Gateway project”. The widely publicized conflict between the Alberta & B.C. Premiers center around B.C.’s fiveconditions. Redford has agreed to all conditions except the fifth and will not negotiate until the fifth is removed from thediscussion table.BACKGROUND – ALBERTA “COMPETITIVENESS” INITIATIVEIn 2010, due to deteriorated marketplace presence and energy profits identified by the Competitiveness Review, the Albertagovernment undertook the Provincial Energy Strategy, aimed at increasing its prominence in the oil and gas sector. The initiativeis working to streamline the regulation process by reducing “unnecessary red tape” and make changes to fiscal regulations aroundroyalty collections, thereby creating foreign investment incentives in Alberta energy. The strategy has paved way to the creationof the Red Tape Reduction Task Force.MUST BE A CONICIDENCE…The Canadian Public Relations Society website is currently displaying a job posting for the position of Sr. Advisor, StakeholderRelations for Enbridge Pipelines Inc. in Edmonton. Be sure to apply before December 1 st, 2012!
The Role of Voters and Citizens A member shall practice public relations according to the highest professional standards....with respect for the rights of the public as contained in the Constitution of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Enbridge underestimated the intelligence of the public and overestimated their tolerance of a representational video.“I think were facing a very strong, almost revolutionary movement” - Patrick Daniel, CEO of EnbridgeThe above quote by Patrick Daniel is a great illustration of citizens reaction to the doctored Enbridge video. The amount ofdiscussion and debate created by this video going viral shows the influence of social media in today’s news environment.The ironic part of this fiasco is Enbridge posted this video predominantly on their website and Youtube channel in anattempt to be social, and ended up having it blow up in their face. The first person to report the missing islands was LoriWaters, a local resident of Vancouver Island. She created overlays and maps of the real layout of the Douglas Channel andposted them to FaceBook. Within hours her photos had gone viral and were shared more than 10,000 times and resultedin 13,000 people signing a letter to Enbridge to pull the ad. This quick and forceful backlash resulted Enbridge doing justthat, and adopting a defensive stance on the issue, proclaiming to several media outlets that the video was merely‘representational’. This only served to influence citizens and voters into treating all communication that comes from Enronas untrustworthy. The amount of attention generated by this viral photo also broadened the scope to include peripheralissues that might have never received any mindshare otherwise, such as the disbandment of the marine contaminantgroup and the extreme budget cuts at the British Columbia Fisheries and Oceans department.The amount of negative press Enbridge has received over this video has been substantial, and it all stemmed from onecitizen who felt the video was unacceptable and wanted to set the record straight. This is a great example of how ordinarycitizens can now have a large impact and make their voices heard through the power of social media.
First Nations Territories“We respect the traditional ways, Aboriginal and Native American heritage sites, and the relationship that Aboriginal and NativeAmerican Peoples have with the land and the environment.” Enbridge Aboriginal and Native American Policy.Enbridge’s video shows a Provincial Border but not First Nation Territories. Save the Fraser Declaration We have inhabited and governed our territories within the Fraser watershed, according to our laws and traditions, since timeimmemorial. Our relationship with the watershed is ancient and profound, and our inherent Title and Rights and legal authority overthese lands and waters have never been relinquished through treaty or war.Water is life, for our peoples and for all living things that depend on it. The Fraser River and its tributaries are our lifeline.A threat to the Fraser and its headwaters is a threat to all who depend on its health. We will not allow our fish, animals, plants, peopleand ways of life to be placed at risk.We have come together to defend these lands and waters from a grave threat: the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project. Thisproject which would link the Tar Sands to Asia through our territories and the headwaters of this great river, and the federal process toapprove it, violate our laws, traditions, values and our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples under international law. We are united toexercise our inherent Title, Rights, and responsibility to ourselves, our ancestors, our descendants and to the people of the world, todefend these lands and waters. Our laws require that we do this.Therefore, in upholding our ancestral laws, Title, Rights and responsibilities, we declare:We will not allow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, or similar Tar Sands projects, to cross our lands, territories andwatersheds, or the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon.We are adamant and resolved in this declaration, made according to our Indigenous laws and authority. We call on all who would placeour lands and waters at risk – we have suffered enough, we will protect our watersheds, and we will not tolerate this great threat to usall and to all future generations.Declared at T’exelc (Williams Lake), Secwepemc Territory, and Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories, and affirmed by the following Indigenous nations:Boston Bar First Nation, Kwakiutl, Chawathil First Nation, Saik’uz, Coldwater Band, Da’naxda’xw Nation, Shackan Indian Band, Cook’s Ferry Band, FortNelson, Siska Indian Band, Ulkatcho Band, Upper Nicola, Okanagan Indian Band, Skatsin/Neskonlith, Skeetchestn, Xat’sūll (Soda Creek), Soowahlie,Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation, Quatsino, Lhtako (Red Bluff), Splatsin, Tseshaht First NationSave the Fraser Declaration (Save the Fraser)
Enbridge’s respect for Aboriginal Culutre“We respect the traditional ways, Aboriginal and Native American heritage sites, and the relationship that Aboriginal andNative American Peoples have with the land and the environment.” Enbridge Aboriginal and Native American PolicyAccording to Enbridge documents filed with the National Energy Board, Enbridge encountered very hostile reaction at ameeting in Burns Lake, B.C. with representatives of the Wet’suwet’en nation, also known as the People of theApostrophe. According to Enbridge, their representative got a face full of feathers when he entered the meeting at achurch hall.“These feathers covered the hair and clothing of the Northern Gateway representative targeted by this featheringincident,” the document reported ominously. According to Enbridge, a member of the Wet’suwet’en explained thatlaws against trespassing are “punishable by death”.You can’t blame Enbridge for feeling threatened. After all, the universal symbol of aggression is having someone blowfeathers in your face.Actually, Enbridge had it somewhat wrong. It was eagle down, not feathers, that was wafted at the Enbridge people.And blowing eagle down at someone is symbol of peace, not an act of aggression. So being “targeted” by a “featheringincident” was actually akin to someone giving you the peace sign.How did they get this wrong? According to a former Enbridge consultant quoted in the Globe, the company hasfrequently used Alberta-based consultants on aboriginal relations, the thinking apparently being that one aboriginalgroup is the same as the next.I suppose we should be thankful that Enbridge doesn’t build pipelines as badly as they handle their relationships withhuman beings. If they did, we’d all be awash in goo.Maurice Tougas column appears regularly at OpenFile Calgary.
A Simple Video of a Complicated Reality“A member shall practice the highest standards of honesty, accuracy, integrity and truth, and shall not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information”The representational video disguises real world environmental effects of the pipeline.These pipelines pose significant threats to the ecologically sensitive lands and waters, as well as to people’s health and livelihoods. Thesepipelines threaten to wreak massive environmental damage by crossing hundreds of salmon-bearing rivers and streams, the Great BearRainforest and mountainous and landslide-prone land where spills could spell ecological disaster and affect the livelihoods of those livingnearby. The cost a clean-up after a spill would be the responsibility of the taxpayers, not Enbridge.The video misrepresents the risks of tanker traffic.Increased tanker traffic and the risk of a spill in B.C.’s ecologically sensitive coastal waters. (The Council of Canadians) “For decades afederal moratorium has protected British Columbia’s sensitive northern waters from crude oil tankers. All that will change if currentlyproposed oil pipelines are built from the Alberta tar sands to the coast of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest.”The video shows one pipeline crossing a vast area of mostly uninhabited.The Enbridge Northern Gateway project proposes two parallel 1,150-kilometre pipelinesacross northern BC – crossing hundreds of important fish-bearing rivers and streams. Onepipeline would carry an estimated 525,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the Alberta tarsands to Kitimat, BC; the second pipeline would carry 150,000 barrels a day of condensate inthe other direction.The video shows the tanker moving through calm, open waters.About 225 oil tankers, including massive supertankers, would carry their loads to and fromBC’s Pacific North Coast every year. The waters of the north coast are notoriously dangerousand difficult to navigate. With that much tanker traffic carrying tar sands oil to Asian markets,BC can likely expect many small spills every year and a catastrophic spill of over 10,000barrels every 12 years (figures based on a report from Simon Fraser University).
Enbridge Incidents & SpillsSome of the incidents in Enbridge’s history 2012 • 190,000 liters of crude oil spilled in Wisconsin 2011 • Leak from Stingray pipeline 2010 • Kalamazoo spill, over 3 megalitres (19,000 bbl) 2008 • Over 500 regulatory violations incurred in one year 1991 • 40,000 barrels of crude went into the Prairie River 1979 • 10,700 barrels (1,700 m3) of crude oil leaked
Enbridge Demonstrates Commitment to Ethical Conduct In the instance of the video in question, Enbridge is simply the victim of social hunger for controversy and taking a video out of it’s context and intended purpose. This advertisement created by Hill and Knowlton, a respected Canadian PR firm, was meant as a broad animation of the general route of the pipeline, and has been amended due to public response. Enbridge has shown that it is accountable to the public, First Nations and environmental protection laws. While one video has been featured in negative media stories, and the opponents of this project have garnered much social media attention, this situation neglects a long and successful corporate history.Little coverage has been give to Enbridge as a company and the in depth and responsivecorporate website with full transparency of accountability reports. Their website provides aMarine Safety route with accurate details and information for Northern Gateway proposals.Marine safety videoThe public is encouraged to respond and post comments. Negative comments are not deletedfrom the thread, including providing additional education links for questions such as, “should wenot be refining the oil here in Canada?”
Enbridge’s Ethical Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility CSR Policies and Values Statement:Enbridge defines CSR as conducting business in Enbridge has adopted a Corporate Social a socially responsible and ethical way; Responsibility Policy that covers business protecting the environment and the health ethics and transparency; environment, healthand safety of people; supporting human rights; and safety; stakeholder relations; employee and engaging, respecting and supporting the relations; human rights; and community communities and cultures close to the investment. This policy applies to activities company’s operations. undertaken anywhere in the world by, or on behalf of Enbridge and our subsidiaries and affiliates, whose operations we mange.Enbridge conducts business in accordance with our Statement on Business Conduct, which outlines ourcommitment to specific standards of conduct expected of our directors, officers, employees, consultantsand contractors in all countries in which Enbridge conducts business. As well, a variety of other policiesand related documents provide direction for specific activities that pertain to CSR. They are: Environment, Health and Safety Policy Aboriginal and Native American Policy Climate Change Policy Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Community Investment Program Criteria and Guidelines
Enbridge Demonstrates Openness and TransparencyTransparent, Accountable, In the public interest, Built on integrity and independenceA Strategic Practice that is: Managed and accountable, Aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the organizationswe serve, Intentional and deliberate, Measurable and relevantAchieving Mutual Benefit through: Meaningful engagement with our priority publics, Creating strong and reciprocalrelationships, Engaging in symmetrical and balanced communication, Developing programs that are socially responsible.Enbridge has been seeking more transparency and has openly communicated it’s new exposure to seeking publicapproval for projects which, in the past, have met with little media exposure. "Every company recognizes that thereare some very important questions being asked and we need to be a lot more transparent," Brenda Kenny of theCanadian Energy Pipeline Association said. Helping Canadians "see the role of pipelines in the fabric of oursociety.....I would fully acknowledge that as a sector were coming to this late in terms of going public with theprograms that we have underway," she said. "You will be seeing a lot more of us." (CBC News)Janet Holder, head of the Northern Gateway Project, who recently relocated to Prince George from Toronto“acknowledges that Enbridge has made missteps along the way. “I wouldn’t call them mistakes,” she says in aninterview for The Globe and Mail th at “the company has underestimated the value of communications. In its focuson what she calls the ‘big picture’ value equation to industry and the Canadian people, Enbridge has struggled toenunciate what it means on a local level: “What does it really mean for Kitimat? For Terrace? For Burns Lake?”Holder is making a corporate presence living and meeting with communities each day.“It’s not until people believethat you really are going to be part of their community that they’ll even start listening to you,” she says. “You haveto show value. You can’t just walk in and say, ‘Here we are. We’re great. Trust us.’ ” (The Globe and Mail)
Enbridge Demonstrates AccountabilityEnbridge maintains an annual commitment to social, corporate and environmental accountability using the Global ReportingInitiative. ”The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a non-profit organization that promotes economic, environmental andsocial sustainability. GRI provides all companies and organizations with a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that iswidely used around the world. “ The Enbridge 2012 report is an in depth, objective set of standards to which they have measuredtheir corporate practices. This report is extremely extensive showing a corporate responsibility required for a company of this size.(Enbridge CSR)The future of oil pipelines has only begun, and stakeholders must be ready to educate themselves beyond media hype. Enbridgehas demonstrated the highest standards of Ethical Practice as outlined in Public Relations Ethical Codes of Conduct in Canada.
Evaluating the Impact of the VideoThe chart below shows the Enbridge Stock Chart from November 2011 to November 2012.Enbridge’s original video was released on December 11th, 2011. It has had over 3,800 views (5 likes, 41dislikes). The second video, showing the missing island was released in August of 2012. It has had over 30,800views (194 likes, 10 dislikes).While we do not imply a causal relationship between the timing of the release of the second video and thedrop in the stock chart, it is an interesting coincidence. Enbridge Stock Chart
Discussion Question After reviewing the CPRS guidelines, do you think the Enbridge video is in violation of their own Code of Ethics or that of the CPRS? If so, who should they be accountable to and how?