As I watch public relations professionals struggling to do their best to serve Senator Larry Craig, Representative William Jefferson, 3M, Michael Vick and other embattled entities, I feel professional empathy. But this question also comes to mind. If I’m a PR guy working for a client or employer who turns out to have done something that is illegal, unethical or unsavory, am I obligated in any way to continue providing PR advocacy services?
Are there acceptable reasons for standing by your man until the bitter end? Contractual obligation? Client/employer loyalty? Professional ethics? Financial survival? Or is it never acceptable for a PR person to advocate for someone you know to have engaged in behavior that is illegal, unethical or unsavory?
Note: The original version of this post referenced Tanya Tucker, who only wished she had advocated standing by her man. Thanks to the reader who pointed out that the original stander was Tammy Wynette. Turns out Tanya didn’t even join Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics, Elton John, Minnie Driver, Tina Turner, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and many others who have covered the song.