Nike Case Should Boost PR

Jeff Seideman, president of the Boston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, is publicly disagreeing with the PRSA's stance on the Nike vs. Kasky lawsuit, in which Nike is being sued for allegedly making false statements about its overseas labor practices. "Actually, PRSA shouldn't be on either side of the issue," Seideman writes. It should have taken a position in support of ethical practices by PR professionals." Nike and the PRSA claim the First Amendment protects their right to make false statements about corporate social responsibility. Seideman retorts: "It seems hypocritical to me for our Society, which has recently embraced cause and social responsibility campaigns as legitimate marketing strategies (despite my personal belief that they are ineffective gimmicks) to claim that Nike is not engaged in commercial speech when it claims its labor practices are socially responsible. Social responsibility campaigns are a form of reputation management and reputation management is designed to directly, or indirectly, positively affect the bottom line. ... The greatest problem facing our profession today is our lack of credibility. ... We only made it worse last year when we eviscerated the enforcement provisions of our Code of Ethics. ... What a shame that the leading professional society of a profession already burdened by doubts about its credibility, would side with those who claim their public statements don't have to be truthful."