Bulgarian PR Expert Maxim Behar: Business Ethics Means Making Profits Transparently
Remarks by Bulgarian PR expert Maxim Behar* at the "Communication on Top" global PR forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Modern business is cross-border business so if you would like to spread a useful or a positive message, or to do something which is very useful or very creative, it would cross the borders in a couple of seconds.
PR is, first of all, public business. Second, it is ethical business. And the messages that we spread out is to be public and ethical.
Ten years ago, I wrote the first ever Business Ethics Standard in Bulgaria. It consisted of 10 rules that we published in the press.
After that, I started presenting it around the country explaining what business ethics stands for. And one day, in a very small town, this guy stood up and said, "Mr. Behar, what does business ethics mean?"
It was a really striking question because I had to explain in one sentence what business ethics really is. This is when I created the following definition: business ethics is making profits transparently.
If you are a PR expert, you might be approached by a client who intends to lie. This client's products are "perfect products" but they are not actually that perfect.
The client would come to you as a PR expert, and say, "Could you please help me to promote my bad products as good products?"
If you don't have this internal feeling of being ethical, you might respond, "Of course, I will help you." In that way, you can hurt millions of people. Ethics in our business is the base of the base.
This reminds me of the SPJ – the Society of Professional Journalists in America, of which I have been a member for 15 years.
Every annual SPJ congress I go to, I buy a new T-shirt. In fact, it is the same old T-shirt but I love it and I wear it often because it says, "Talk is cheap. Free speech isn't." You can talk whatever you wish. But free speech requires a huge responsibility.
The exciting story of free speech now goes to the world of social media. I had the chance to experience with the creation of my book, "111 Rules on Facebook", which was actually written on Facebook.
The whole thing started about a couple of years ago when the financial crisis had already begun, and it was clear that a lot of people will suffer losses in their business.
Then one day I went out of the shower, sat in front of my computer, and thought, "I should say something to my friends in order to motivate them, to tell them that there is nothing wrong, and crises happen."
So I don't why but I wrote in my Facebook status, "Rule No. 1" - meaning a basic rule - "Rule No. 1: The worst decision is better than no decision." I wanted to tell them, "Don't hesitate, don't be bored, don't sleep, wake up, and take decisions because the crisis requires it.
I took my car, drove to the office, and when I logged on my Facebook profile again, and there were about 10-20 comments, and one of them said, "What is rule No. 2?" This is how this project started.
Then I started a second project – the word of the day. Every single morning I put in a new word in my Facebook status. Then we will publish a book with the same publishing house entitled "365 Words." It will contain a word for each day, the definition of the word according to the Oxford Dictionary, and the definition of the word by the Facebook users in 2010 to show how the meaning of these words is changing. The reality is completely different now. And I think that in addition to realizing that, readers will have fun.
Communication is fun. It's not just business, it's not just a money-making machine. It's a process. During this process you meet a lot of people, you have a lot of adventures. If it's not fun, it's a failure, it can't be efficient or productive. For me it is fun.
In the past 15 years, with my company M3 Communications Group, Inc., I have done more than 4 000 projects. I can't say that any of them was the project of my life because the project of my life is still to come but I think that the founding of Facebook is a good example of a communication project.
Because Facebook is a pure communication project. Two guys at Harvard launched it to connect students. Several years later it has hundreds of millions of users. It's a brilliant example of a communications project bringing people together, and explaining to them that it is much better for them to be together than to be separated.
*Maxim Behar is a Bulgarian PR and media expert, founder and CEO of one of the leaders on the Bulgarian PR market, M3 Communications Group, Inc. As of January 2012, he is the Chairman of the Czech Republic Office of leading global corporation Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Behar is also the Treasurer and a Member of the Executive Board of the International Communication Consultancy Organization (ICCO), and a member of the Board of the global PR forum in Davos "Communication on Top".
- » DPS Scandal 'Will Create Islamist Party in Bulgaria,' Historian Warns
- » Bulgaria C-Bank Should Improve Transparency, Prof Hanke Says
- » Greece's Exceptional Access to IMF Funding
- » Internet Trolls Not Credible, PR Expert Maxim Behar Says
- » Terror Attack 'Unlikely' in Prague-Varna Bus Incident
- » Steve Hanke: Another Greek Debt Default Is Imminent