Baylor Professor, Public Relations Ethics Expert Shares Thoughts on Resignation of ICE Spokesman

Baylor Professor, Public Relations Ethics Expert Shares Thoughts on Resignation of ICE Spokesman

March 13, 20182 min read

James Schwab, spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in San Francisco, recently resigned his position -- alleging that Trump administration officials, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, made false public statements after the agency’s recent Northern California sweep to arrest undocumented immigrants.

Marlene Neill, Ph.D, APR, an expert on public relations ethics and coauthor of the new book "Public Relations Ethics: Senior PR Pros Tell Us How to Speak Up and Keep Your Job," said it's incredibly challenging for PR professionals when they feel their integrity is at stake or when they are at odds with their supervisors.

If Schwab's accusations are founded, Dr. Neill said she feels he made the best decision.

"I applaud James Schwab for his moral courage and willingness to stand firm in his values despite a high personal cost. From news accounts, it appears he tried to persuade other executives to be more forthright and truthful in their communication, but was unsuccessful in his efforts. That left him no choice but to resign. In our new book, we discuss different persuasive approaches senior executives can use to advocate for ethical communication. However, when those efforts fail, it leaves communication executives with few options to maintain their integrity. That is why it is so important to have a personal crisis plan."

Dr. Neill, Ph.D., APR, is an assistant professor at Baylor University. She teaches courses in public relations and advertising. She also serves as the faculty adviser for the Baylor PRSSA chapter.

Her research interests include public relations management and ethics. She has published research in the following journals: Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Public Relations Review, Journal of Communication Management and Journal of Advertising Education.

Neill is an accredited member of the Central Texas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She served as the chair for the Southwest District of PRSA in 2011. At the national level, Neill served a three-year term on the Universal Accreditation Board, which administers the examination for Accreditation in Public Relations; the Nominating Committee, which selects national board officers in 2012; and was appointed to the Board of Ethics & Professionals Standards in January of 2013.

Dr. Neill is available to comment.


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  • Marlene Neill, Ph.D.
    Marlene Neill, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Journalism, Public Relations and New Media

    Professor Neill's research interests include internal communication, public relations management and ethics

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