USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism released their 2018 Global Communications Report – aptly named “The Evolution of Ethics” where public relations students and professionals worldwide were surveyed about the role of ethics in public relations (PR).
Some interesting insights about the current public relations landscape were revealed which also reflects on how ethics will impact the future of the PR industry. Here is a findings snapshot:
The top three drivers of the change in the next 5 years according to the survey are
The most prominent ethical problems for the PR industry as per the respondents:
The most significant factor that impacts ethics in PR is the ever-evolving media landscape flooded with fake news, branded content, and paid influencers.
…good relationships between an organization and its stakeholders are built on trust; trust is gained by acting ethically and lost by acting unethically; therefore, ethical decision-making is good public relations. And, good public relations are dependent on ethical decision –making.
Paul Holmes- In his book “The Case for Ethics.”
Ethics are vital for any business. More so for the PR industry. PR is perceived as something less than respectable, and public relations professionals are known as manipulators of the public mind, who use clever tactics to convince the public that what’s wrong is actually right.
As Wendell Potter, former PR executive and author of much talked- about book- “Deadly Spin” writes
“With PR so intricately woven into every major industry and movement in today’s mass media reality, the stakes of spin have become incredibly high. And ethics do slip. PR often crosses the line into misleading, withholding, or simply lying. And when it does, society suffers — sometimes tragically so.”
Therefore, to say that there is such a thing called “Public Relations Ethics” is not just a subject taught at communications schools. It is a reality, and PR industry should embrace PR ethics the way other industries have their own code of conduct.
Considering the drivers of change in the PR industry, these are the essential skills for PR firms to succeed in future
The role of today’s PR manager is continuously evolving, and today they are as much a part of management as any other function. Despite a lot of negative reputation of public relations, there is still potential for encouraging ethical communication.
Public relations professionals have long been labeled as “spin doctors,” and as a result, they are always a subject matter of critical scrutiny by journalists and the public. The only way to break this image is by adhering to the highest ethical standards to demonstrate their credibility as honest and trustworthy professionals. As Madan Bahal, co-founder and MD of Adfactors PR, rightly puts it
“The evolved professional should not be limited by the idea of communications – which by definition itself is limiting. One school of thought says that public relations is 90% behaviour and 10% communications. Our jobs will involve advising client corporations on the right conduct in society so that they are not misaligned with stakeholder expectations. This, in my opinion, will drive the strategic relevance of PR professionals”
K2 Communications Pvt. Ltd. has been in the business of helping clients successfully embrace technology changes and the ever-changing media landscape by employing innovative tactics ethically and with integrity for the last 15 years.
We have the strategies and tools to help clients claim their positions as industry leaders. If you’re in healthcare, education, technology or any other industries, and need help with a PR, marketing or social media campaign, contact K2 Communications today!
About the author:
Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.