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2 approaches to make sure your communication is bias-free and ethical

By Katie Boyles

Apply these methods to your PR and marketing materials

Ethics are key in your communications.

When you hire a public relations firm, you trust its members to make ethical decisions and use best practices in all stages of communication with your audiences. Persuasive communication methods work to change your audience’s awareness, attitude, or behavior. When working to persuade someone, whether it’s to attend, purchase, visit, follow, or donate, apply the T.A.R.E.S. test or the duty-based method to ensure ethical best practices. Read our post “3 golden rules of PR in 2018” to dive deeper into which ethical standards are trending this year.


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Method 1:

T.A.R.E.S. test

The acronym T.A.R.E.S. will help you remember each of the five categories to consider before sharing persuasive content and marketing materials with audiences. The foundation of ethical persuasion is a clear understanding of the difference between means and ends. T.A.R.E.S. is a five-part test of prima facie duties – duties that we accept as correct until someone proves otherwise. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), which is the leading trade association of the PR industry, promotes this test.

Read through the material you’re working on and ask each of the following questions:



1. Truthfulness

  • Is the communication accurate?
  • Does it lead people to believe what I myself do not believe?

2. Authenticity

  • Does this action compromise my integrity or my personal beliefs?

3. Respect

  • Is the message made to persuade rational, self-determining human beings?

4. Equity

  • Am I doing to others what I would not want them to do to me, or to someone I care about?

5. Social responsibility

  • Does this action take responsibility to promote and create the kind of society and world in which I would like to live with my loved ones?

Track your responses to the above questions and identify how your materials ranked.


Method 2:


The notion of autonomy and respect for all people and individuals is the sole driver of this approach. In six phases, you’re able to determine the best way to navigate a difficult issue and make a decision that considers and respects all people and individuals.


Axia_ethics phase


If your PR agency of record is not using best practices for communication standards, it’s time to cut ties. You don’t want to associate your company with an unethical business partner. Download Axia Public Relations’ complimentary e-book “How to Fire Your PR Firm” to end the unhealthy relationship and find a firm that includes ethical practices in its PR program planning. 


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axia-leadership-katie-boylesClients love Katie’s energy and enthusiasm. She works with local, regional and national clients coordinating their PR campaigns. Katie has worked with Axia Public Relations since September 2015. Learn more about Katie.


Featured image credit: 123rf.com


Topics: public relations, ethics, earned media

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