If wishes were horses, beggars would ride . . .
And, if wishes were cures, Covid-19 would no longer be threatening us.

Sadly, both statements are fairy tales, albeit from different times and places. The first, written almost 400 years ago, came from Scotland. The second, just written a few days ago, could have been written anywhere in the world. The distressing and disheartening fact is that Covid-19, despite what some people would like to believe, is not yet just an historic footnote. It's still a very real and dire threat facing all of us.

In the three years since Covid-19 came on the scene and shut down the world, there have been more than 770 million cases of Covid-19 reported worldwide and 6,956,160 deaths due to Covid-19. Beyond that, medical authorities are still reporting roughly 500,000 new cases of Covid-19 every week. But, many people don't realize it because Covid no longer dominates the news the way it once did. Daily and weekly Covid updates from state governors and health authorities have been discontinued and very little Covid news is now being reported.

So, it's not over, but we've definitely moved into in a new phase of the Covid crisis. Amazing vaccines, including new and updated versions which directly target new and emerging variants of Covid, have been developed and are widely available, often free of charge. And, they've produced dramatic decreases in the rate of fatalities and serious illness among those whose vaccinations are up to date. But, some people still refuse to be vaccinated, and tens of thousands still contract Covid, become critically ill, and die, all the while opposing factions are shouting, "Abolish Covid protocols and return to normal social practices!" or conversely, "Be careful out there: mask up and social distance."

Under such conditions, it's no longer possible for conscientious public relations practitioners -- or anyone else who has to deal with the public -- to ignore Covid-19. Failing to address it when dealing with people is not only immoral and unethical, it will ultimately be held against you by the public who will perceive you as stupid, uncaring, or deceitful if you're not completely up front with them.

What you need to immediately announce to anyone with whom you or your organization are about to interact is:

    (a)  what you have done to protect them from Covid-19 while they interact with you and;
    (b)  what you expect them to do -- e.g., be vaccinated, wear a mask, socially distance, have their temperature taken, etc. -- before or while they are interacting with you or other members of your organization.

Don't wait until they ask for this information. Make it readily available and clearly understandable. Post it in your front window and on your door, as well as on your website. Include an explanatory link to it in all your emails, have hard copies of it to handout at your check-out counter or information booth, and include it as a pre-recorded opening statement for all incoming calls to your phone system.

Only when everyone does this will we all have a better chance of surviving Covid.
Read more about how the Covid crisis evolved to this point.     


Maintained by: Professor Emeritus Michael Turney, Ph.D., ABC, Northern Kentucky University
This website was initially developed to support public relations courses I taught at Northern Kentucky University. Since I've retired, it's become a supplementary text at scores of universities and is widely used as a reference or refresher by public relations professionals, especially those preparing for accreditation or certification.

List of schools & organizations currently using this website as a resource.

Whose safety comes first,
your customers or your employees?

This is not a hypothetical question. With Covid-19 still on the scene, it's a real and very serious question. The health and safety of your organization's employees and customers are riding on the answer, and your organization could be legally liable for the consequences of that answer.

What can/should be done? To or for whom? -- Require that employees be vaccinated? Require everyone entering your facility to wear a face mask? Let everyone decide for themself?-- Beyond the legal and practical issues involved, what are the moral and ethical implications? And, is your chosen policy consistent with your organization's public persona?

Can you justify terminating employees and denying them the chance to earn a living because they refuse to get vaccinated and/or wear a Covid mask?

Conversely, can you justify putting the health of employees and customers at risk by allowing unvaccinated and/or unmasked people to enter your place of business?

Have your legal department and insurance carrier reviewed your potential liability and coverage in light of your policy? If not, this might be something to add to today's "to do list."

These are serious questions with real consequences that need to be given full and thoughtful consideration before any policy is established or put into effect. Such issues aren't new to companies that manufacture or sell dangerous products, or that use hazardous materials, or whose workers routinely face high-risk situations. They've already thought about them, weighed the pros and cons, and established policies to protect themselves, their employees, their customers, and the general public. -- But, has your organization done so?

In today's world where Covid remains dominant, all work places -- No, make that all places where people may gather and interact. -- have become potentially high-risk, hazardous locations. That's why your organization, regardless of how safe it once upon a time may have been viewed, needs to take these questions seriously.
Read more about employee public relations.     

Public relations
during a crisis


Covid-19 must now be
part of all PR plans.

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Strategic & tactical
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Ethics in public relations


New biography sheds light on PR during the American Revolution.

Public relations as a profession dates to the late 19th century, although similar efforts had occurred much earlier. In fact, the era of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War was a hotbed of public relations-like activity with slogans like "Taxation without representation is tyranny," pamphlets such as Thomas Paine's Common Sense, organizations like the Sons of Liberty, and demonstrations like the Boston Tea Party.

But, until now, there were only vague, non-specific references to "the Founding Fathers" as the organizers of these efforts and no explanation of how they were brought to fruition. Then last year, new information was brought to light in a book published by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Stacy Schiff.

Titled The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, it's a well-researched, very readable, and compelling argument that Samuel Adams, a cousin of the second President of the United States, "stood behind the change in thinking that produced the American Revolution."

Step by step, Schiff explains how Adams "calculated what would be required to upend" British control and began "radicalizing men, women, and children, with boycotts and pickets, street theater, invented traditions, a news service, ... character assassination, and any number of innovative, extra-legal institutions" to create "a seminal campaign of civil resistance."

Schiff's tale is fascinating, from the very first paragraph: "Samuel Adams delivered ... the most remarkable second act in American life. It was all the more confounding after the first: he was a perfect failure until middle age. He found his footing at forty-one, when, over a dozen years, he proceeded to answer to Thomas Jefferson's description of him as truly the man of the Revolution."

Sadly, Schiff's research also revealed Adams was a liar who played fast and loose with the truth when it served his purpose. He flatly denied facts, or made them up, and often spread lies he knew would destroy someone's otherwise good reputation. That alone keeps me from seeing him as an admirable precursor of a good public relations practitioner.

Read a longer review in "Recent Reads."     

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Updated: 9/10/2023