According to the information presented in the PRSA Code of Ethics, the core values that should guide people engaged in the field of public relations are advocacy, honesty, loyalty, fairness, and many others. The primary purpose of the PRSA Code of Ethics is to assist the PRSA members in carrying out a huge variety of ethical duties and responsibilities. The paper aims to analyze and assess the vitamin manufacturing issue on the basis of the ethical considerations presented in the PRSA Code of Ethics. Moreover, much attention will be paid to the main ethical challenges presented in the scenario representing the effective solutions to the ambiguous situations and the impact of ethical challenges on the public and welfare of the company.
Taking into consideration the main ideas presented in the case about the vitamin manufacturing issue, a successful privately owned company Vitaceuticals that manufactures and distributes vitamins to the health food stores on the territory of the USA faces a troublesome situation because the management team of this pharmaceutical company recently revealed that due to a cleaning solution, approximately 50,000 bottles of vitamins were contaminated. Moreover, although the containers for coating the vitamins had been contaminated, these vitamins were delivered to the stores and are available to the public. Having identified and assessed the scope of the problem, it is possible to stress that the leadership and management team of the company should find effective solutions to the current issue that focus on the principles of honesty, loyalty, and fairness. Despite the scientists employed by this company assure that the vitamins are safe and may be consumed by people without health threats because the amount of the contaminations is small, the company should not ignore this issue because safety and security of people are the priorities of every pharmaceutical company. According to the data provided in the case of the vitamin manufacturing issue, the company scientists think that vitamins that were delivered to the stores are safe and ready to take. In addition, the company scientists claim that because the amount of contamination is small, these vitamins may “taste funny” but will definitely not make people “too” sick. The principals provided in the PRSA Code of Ethics prove that expertise and independence are critical characteristics which are vital for professionals in the sphere of public relations (PRSA Member Code of Ethics, 2000). Because the safety of vitamins is the first and, at the same time, the most important factor that makes these supplements suitable for usage, company scientists have no right to make conclusions concerning the safety of vitamins solely on the basis of personal viewpoints and assumptions. On the contrary, the scientists employed by Vitaceuticals bear the responsibility for possible adverse effects, reactions to the consumption of the vitamins, and detrimental effects of these drugs on people’s health. Thus, the proofs should be valid and well-grounded.
Despite this unpleasant situation related to the contamination of the containers with vitamins may put at risk the celebration of the 25th anniversary and attract the attention of mass media, the company should put these unsafe vitamins off the shelf and inform the employees about the event in order not to spoil a reputation of the company. To follow the PRSA Code of Ethics is a proof that health of the community is the priority of the company. Regardless of the fact that it was an accident, employees should know what had happened in order to follow new policies developed by management of the company to avoid similar cases in the future. Generally, the management of the company should follow the code because it will have a positive impact on the reputation of the company, its commitment to the customers, and potential clients who purchase vitamins produced by this company. In other words, when the management follows the code and works honestly and fairly with its customers and employees, it will provide convincing evidence that the company is accountable for all the accidents. Thus, it honors its primary obligation and duty to serve the interests of the public. It means that its primarily purpose is to build mutual understanding not terminating the cooperation with the public, employers, employees, and even the media. In case the company follows the Code of Ethics, it will demonstrate credibility, the highest standards of truth, loyalty, and commitment to the primary needs, interests, and expectations of the public (PRSA Member Code of Ethics, 2000). Finally, a disclosure of the accurate information about the event is essential for this company because it will assist Vitaceuticals in maintaining and building trust with the public. The customers will understand that timely revealed information about causes and consequences of the accidents matters a lot for the future relationships. The avoidance of destructive consequences that may discourage the public from purchasing the vitamins manufactured and distributed by this company should be maintained by the management. In case Vitaceuticals ignores the code, it will prove that the mission of the company has nothing in common with a free flow of information and unbiased disclosure of information. It will not symbolize an accurate and honest behavior of the management in the processes of communication with the public. Violation of the PRSA Code of Ethics is the clear sign that the company Vitaceuticals is not ready to disclose information despite the fact that this accident may have detrimental consequences on health and well-being of customers.
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Thus, after analyzing the main challenges Vitaceuticals faced, defining how they should be addressed according to the principles of the PRSA Code of Ethics, and describing possible consequences if the management follows or ignores the Code of Ethics, it is possible to summarize that professionals in the sphere of public relations should maintain healthy relationships with the management of the company, the media, and with the public in order to save this company from losing its reputation.