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Cases in Public Relations

Translating Ethics into Action

Dr. Brigitta Brunner and Dr. Corey Hickerson

Publication Date - 30 November 2018

ISBN: 9780190631383

368 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Presents the diversity of public relations practice in today's complex world through an ethical lens, offering the most contemporary and varied set of cases available


Cases in Public Relations presents the complexities and challenges of public relations in today's ever-changing world. Containing cases written specifically for this course by researchers and practitioners from all parts of the country, this text offers the most contemporary and diverse set of cases available. While clearly illustrating the functions of public relations practices, each case also challenges students to consider the real-world context and ethical dimensions of public relations.


  • Organized by function and context, this casebook can complement any existing course while adding guidance for considering the ethical dimensions of each real-world case
  • Provides diverse voices and multiple perspectives from faculty of practice and research nationwide
  • Includes contemporary cases to bring spark discussion and ensure this important case is professionally relevant for the next generation of students

About the Author(s)

Brigitta R. Brunner is Professor of Public Relations at Auburn University.

Corey A. Hickerson is Professor of Public Relations at James Madison University.


"Cases in Public Relations satisfies my goal of incorporating ethical thought and action into all aspects of the public relations process. We talk about ethics in the introductory course, but little, from a text standpoint, is done afterwards. With this text, I will be able to 'close the loop' between introduction and implementation."--Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, Curry College

"This text helps students understand that decisions are not always 'black and white' and cannot be made in a vacuum. In addition, success cannot be measured only in dollar amounts. It will also help students to understand that many publics/constituencies are affected by decisions."--Patricia Cambridge, Ohio University

Table of Contents

    Section I: Introduction to Cases, Ethics, and Public Relations

    Chapter 1: What is the Case Method?
    What is a Case?
    How do faculty teach via case method?

    Chapter 2: Ethical Frameworks and Professional Codes
    Ethics, Morals, and Laws
    Different Types of Ethical Frameworks

    Professional Codes
    PRSA Code of Ethics: Preamble
    IABC Code of Ethics for Professional Communicators
    The Page Principles

    Section II: Public Relations Functions

    Chapter 3: Conflict and Crisis Management
    The Lands' End Content Marketing Debacle: A Cautionary Tale of a Retailer's Inadvertent Foray into Polarized Politics by Nathan Gilkerson

    The September 11 Memorial by Hannah Karolak and Susan Mancino

    Ethical and Effective Post-Crisis Stakeholder Relations by Colleen Arendt

    "Am I Safe?": The Ethical Implications of Running and Maintaining a Sharing Economy Organization by Lindsey J. DiTirro, Lauren Berkshire Hearit, and Emilly Martinez

    Chapter 4: Social Media and Technology
    Seeing Through the Golden Arches: Transparency in the Digital Age by Prisca S. Ngondo and Clay Craig

    Scrubbing and the Ethics of Digital Reputation Management by Alison N. Novak

    Applebee's Social Media "Meltdown": Managing Ethics in an Online Brand Community by Amber L. Hutchins and Desirae K. Johnson

    Chapter 5: Corporate Social Responsibility
    All Your Clothes Are Made with Exploited Labor: Patagonia Takes Action to Spur Action by Jean Kelso Sandlin

    A Tale of Two Case Studies: Comparing Coca-Cola's Divergent Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives and the Resulting Ethical Implications by Lucinda L. Austin, MaryClaire Schulz, and Barbara Miller Gaither

    Restructuring Corporate Philanthropy: Belk Strategically Apples Ethical Responsibility to Underpin Community Engagement by Alan Freitag and Jessica Graham

    Ethical Corporate Philanthropy: A Case Study on Communicating CSR by Heidi Hatfield Edwards

    Section III: Public Relations Contexts
    Chapter 6: Consumer Relations
    Volkswagen the Betrayer: A Case Study of Gross Disregard for the Welfare of Stakeholders Worldwide by Chiara Valentini and Dean Kruckeberg

    Blackfish backlash: SeaWorld's Attempt at Navigating a Crisis Situation by Leslie Rodriguez Rasmussen and Melody Fisher

    Food Fight: How Ethical Management Saved Market Basket by Brenda J. Wrigley

    Ethical Activism? Food Babe, Big Food, and the Online Pressure for Disclosure by Ashli Quesinberry Stokes

    Chapter 7: Community Relations
    "Do Not Use!": Ethical Implications of the 2014 Elk River Chemical Spill by Xiaochen Angela Zhang and Jonathan Borden

    Maintaining the Public Trust: A Town Meeting About Rising Natural Gas Prices by Mary Beth Reese and Erin E. Gilles

    Shifting Blame: Addressing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Complicated Ethical Responsibility in the Flint Water Crisis by Catherine J. Bruns

    Chapter 8: Sports Communication
    Should the Fan Experience Impact the Game? by John Forde

    The NFL Concussion Crisis: More Than Just a Bad Headache by Terry L. Renter and LaMar C. Campbell

    Paper Classes or Academic Anomalies: A Kantian Examination of UNC's Response to it is Shadow Curriculum by Christie M. Kleinmann

    Chapter 9: Health
    Healthcare Public Relations and Moral Obligations: Patient Safety and the Boston University Medical Center Tuberculosis Case by Carey Noland and Heather Carmack

    Emergent Ethical Health Care Public Relations in the Digital Age by Alisa Agozzino and Katee Fenimore

    Healthcare Organizations and Patient Safety: Questions of Ethical Public Relations Practices by Carrie Reif, Julie A. Lasslo, and Kathryn E. Anthony

    Chapter 10: Government Relations
    Dealing with Subsequent Crisis Response: Timeliness and Transparency in Government Response to the New Jersey Boardwalk Fire by Mildred F. Wiggins Perreault and Anli Xiao

    Connecting Government Relations to Ethics: Louisiana's Centralized Media Relations by Chistopher J. McCollough

    MERS Outbreak Case in Korea: A Snapshot of Government Responses and Public Relations Considerations by Ji Young Kim

    Chapter 11: International
    Skol's "Viva Redondo" ("Live Round") Crisis by Deborah de Cillo Ottoni Teixeira and Michelle M. Maresh-Fuehrer

    Toshiba Accounting Scandal: Japanese National Culture, Corporate Governance, and Public Relations Ethics by Koji Fuse, Jacqueline Sears, and Keyona Adaiah Butler

    Taylor Guitars, Guardians of the Forest by Janis Teruggi Page and William S. Page

    Chapter 12: Nonprofit & Education
    The Wounded Warrior Project by Pamela G. Bourland-Davis and William Thompson

    Why Are There So Many Crucifixes? By J.J. McIntyre and Kristen A. McIntyre

    Connecting Ethics and Practice as PR Students Transition from Learners to Educators by Douglas J. Swanson

    Section IV: The Future of Public Relations

    Chapter 13: Trends in Public Relations, Communication, and Society that Will Challenge Ethics
    Taking a Bite Out of Apple: The Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Apple, Inc. by Heather J. Hether

    Chiquita Brands, its Illegal Payments to Paramilitary Groups in Colombia, and the Transnational Public Relations Crisis that Followed by Vanessa Bravo, JuanCarlos Molleda, Andrés Felipe Giraldo-Dávila, and Luis Horacio Botero-Montoya

    Making Plastic Green: Capital One's Commitment to Sustainability by Stephanie A. Smith