US-Based PRCA Leaders Reject PR Figures’ Calls for Violence

As the United States approaches its Presidential Election November 3rd – on the heels of the White House announcing on October 2nd the positive COVID-19 test result for President Donald Trump and the First Lady – the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and its US-based membership calls upon the global PR industry to reject any advocacy or spokesmanship embracing violence or death directed at any individual or group.
 
“It is indeed a shocking low-point in modern-day ‘first world’ society – that we must beseech public relations practitioners outside our membership not to use their powers of communication or influence to advocate for the literal death of other people – but here we are,” said Mary Beth West, MPRCA, a PRCA Ethics Council co-chair and senior strategist with Tennessee-based Fletcher Marketing PR.
 
A social media posting incident within minutes after the Trumps’ positive COVID-19 announcement on October 2 sparked swift reactions, when this individual posted to her 37,000 Twitter followers, “…I hope he dies…” referring to President Trump.
 
The tweet’s author is a “strategic communications consultant,” according to her LinkedIn profile – a PRCA non-member who previously had served as a national spokesperson of a 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and also had served as a White House digital communications team member in 2013. The tweet was soon thereafter deleted and her account placed on “protected” status.
 
Later, Twitter issued a warning that “tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed.”
 
“While the PRCA embraces full inclusion of all points of view and robust debate of policy and opinion across the ideological spectrum in service to an informed society, the PRCA’s industry-standard Code of Conduct calls upon PR practitioners first and foremost to ‘have a positive duty to observe the highest standards in the practice of public relations and communications,’ ‘not disseminate…information…recklessly,’ and ‘seek to serve the health and wellbeing of people,’” West said, in quoting the PRCA Code.
 
According to PRCA executive leadership, the “I hope he dies” tweet serves as an example of an egregious line crossed, diametrically opposed to “health and wellbeing of people,” irrespective of any partisan politics.
 
“Without question, any individual working in public relations who would use their powers of communication to advocate for the death of a fellow civilian is cause for immediate alarm and deserves swift industry condemnation,” said PRCA Director General Francis Ingham MPRCA.
 
“With the global pandemic at hand, we are living in tremendously volatile times, with citizenries’ emotions running high, and stress levels already beyond breaking points,” Ingham said. “In crafting and disseminating responsible communications, PR practitioners must exercise ethical compliance, utmost discretion, and sound leadership – now more than ever. We call upon all PRCA members to continue setting the bar and modeling behavior that might dissuade others from acting unethically.”

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