How To Know Business Writing Ethics

Writing business communications and media releases for your company is not always an easy feat. For one, you will have to be mindful of the tone of your writing, in that you need more formality. Secondly, you need to be mindful of your audience, in that you are sharing information about your company's products, services, or finances, such that you are being truthful, while at the same time putting your best foot forward. It doesn't stop there, though. Writing business communications involves ethics.

  • Be truthful. When writing a press release, the intent is usually to alert media agencies, editors, and even webmasters about something new with your company. It may be a new product, or a new service, or a new set of officers, or a new company vision. What's important to note here is that you should be truthful in what you release to the media.

    You can focus on the positive, without necessarily having to resort to lying. When informing the public about your company's new product, you can highlight the best parts, but you shouldn't make false claims.

  • Be mindful of regulatory requirements. Much of business communications involves disclosing a company or corporation's financial status to stakeholders. This is usually done prior to stockholders' meetings. You send out letters to all shareholders informing them of the state of the company, and including balance sheets, financial statements and other such charts. The important thing to remember here is to be mindful of the requirements of legal and accounting principles.

    For instance, you need to disclose any extraordinary event that might have boosted your company's stock value. You need to disclose the accounting principles and standards you used. And you need to make sure that these are sound, and are according to generally accepted accounting principles. Otherwise, you run the risk of bringing out a false image of your company to the shareholders and the public. Similar cases have brought ruin to big corporations (think Enron) and their management.

  • Be mindful of the repercussions to the business. When you write media releases or marketing copy, you should be mindful of the reaction of those who will be on the receiving end. Will it be positive? Will the company gain significant mindshare or goodwill? Will the business be taken in a good light? Ethics means not only benefiting the common good, but of course also your employer.
  • Don't disclose trade secrets. In the case of business writing in general, we may be in a situation where we need to communicate with our colleagues within and outside of our own company. You need to be sure that you don't disclose trade or company secrets this way. That would essentially be stealing of information and intellectual property. This is actually not only unethical, but also punishable by law.

One possible example here is when you are a software developer, and you have media contacts. Be careful not to talk about new features of a still-being-developed software when they're not ready yet, and especially when you are not yet authorized. Even if this is done through informal channels, word spreads quickly through the rumor mill, even in a business setting.

In corporate communications, you need to strike a balance between morals and the need for a business to earn profit.


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: