Blog written by Maggie Hassler

According to PR Week, Greenpeace recently visited Lexis PR, JCPR and Ogilvy PR urging the three PR agencies representing Unilever’s Dove brand to help persuade Unilever to stop using unsustainable palm oil. Greenpeace’s “Burning Up Borneo” report claims that Unilever is responsible for the destruction of Indonesia‘s rainforests through chosen suppliers. Greenpeace targeting Unilever’s public relations firms as agents of influence and change brings up an interesting question: Are public relations organizations and individuals responsible for their client’s practice?

According to the Public Relations Society of America Member Code of Ethics, a public relations professional committed to ethical practices is to uphold the core value of honesty.  This value requires members to “adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.”

With this in mind, I argue that public relations organizations and individuals are not responsible for client practice or pursuing change of said practice.  Rather, public relations agencies and professionals are responsible for transparency and accuracy when dealing with media and the public.  It is ultimately the consumer’s decision to purchase products and services they are informed about.