Mark McClennan hosts a weekly podcast where he explores ethical questions with public relations industry experts and agency leaders. He brings a wealth of his own experience to the mix, as a longtime senior agency executive and former National Chair of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
Mark joined Chip on this episode to talk about some of the lessons he has learned and the advice he has for agencies as they work to navigate challenging ethical situations.
- Mark McClennan: “There was a really interesting study that came out about probably eight to 10 years ago now, that deals with people making inherently selfish and unethical decisions, when they’re not given time to think. Your first impulse is to go selfish, and just think about yourself.”
Mark McClennan: “There needs to be more than just a senior leader leading by example. That’s great. But guess what I can watch a great baseball player hit a home run all the time, but it doesn’t mean I can do it just by watching them. You need to have practice, you need to have experience, you need to really look at what’s going on.”
Chip Griffin: “There’s there’s a lot of pressure on employees in PR agencies to get results and to do things quickly … my perception is that that tends to press some of these ethical issues to the forefront because there’s a tendency to want to cut corners, or frankly, a lot of times a client may ask you to cut corners.”
Mark McClennan: “It is our job and our responsibility to tell them you know what, what you’re asking me to do, will hurt my brand and could hurt your brand if it comes out. And so … it’s penny wise and pound foolish. You need to resist the temptation for those quick wins, because in the end, it’s going to hurt you and your client a lot more.”
Chip Griffin: “I think that a culture of openness certainly helps in ethics, and it helps in other ways within the agency as well. But having the willingness to have those difficult conversations, whether they’re initiated from above or below, will really make a difference to most agencies.”
ABOUT THE GUEST
Mark McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA, has 20+ years of tech and fintech agency experience. Most recently he was a senior vice president and led the financial technology group for MSL Boston. He is now the principal of EV Strategic Communications and runs the industry’s most popular weekly blog and podcast on communications ethics – EthicalVoices.com. McClennan served as the 2016 National Chair of PRSA and drove the creation of the PRSA ethics app. He is a frequent speaker on social media, ethics and the future of PR.