The 2018 Global Communications Report, “The Evolution of Ethics,” released by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, surveyed public relations students and professionals worldwide about the role of ethics in public relations (PR). It reveals interesting insights about the current PR landscape and how ethics will impact the future of the industry.
The survey reported one of the biggest factors impacting ethics in PR is the ever-evolving media terrain paved with fake news, branded content and paid influencers. According to the report, “the blurring of facts and fiction impacts everyone whose career is centered on building credibility.”
The Future is Paved with Change
Seventy percent of professionals surveyed believe the PR industry will change drastically over the next five years, yet only 36 percent of in-house professionals who expect change think their companies are prepared for it. However, more than half of agency executives are confident their firms are ready for this change.
The top three drivers of this change were seen as the changing media landscape, technological innovations and greater access to data. Considering these drivers, respondents highlighted strategic planning and leadership as the two skills most critical to ensuring future success. They also saw written communications, social media and multimedia content development among the most important for future success.
Evolving Media Landscape
Considering the impact of the changing media landscape, 64 percent of those surveyed said they don’t believe the average consumer will be able to distinguish between paid, earned, shared, and owned media over the next five years. Further, 60 percent said they don’t think the average consumer will care if the different types of media are distinguishable.
Ethics are Vital
Ethics are vital to the success of a business. Ethics are even more important within the PR industry which provides reputation management. Survey responses showed a trend toward increasing ethical behavior in the PR field. In fact, of those surveyed, the vast majority believe the PR industry would benefit from a generally accepted code of ethics and a dedicated organization to enforce that code. Respondents ranked the issues presenting the most potential ethical problems for the PR industry as:
- Fake News (92 percent)
- Purposeful Distortion of the Truth (91 percent)
- Defense of Malicious Behavior (88 percent)
- Lack of Corporate Transparency (81 percent)
Change is Constant and Ethics Abound
The need for public relations services will continue to grow and mirroring the need in business, the field will become increasingly ethical. New technology and the changing media landscape has driven change in the PR industry which will continue to evolve. As a result, the scope of services offered in public relations will need to expand exponentially and the skills needed to meet those services also will need to multiply.
To quote Paul Holmes’ The Case for Ethics, “…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.”
Scott Public Relations has been in the business of helping clients successfully navigate these technology changes and the ever-evolving media landscape by employing innovative tactics always ethically and with integrity. Our team of professionals is poised with strategies and tools to help clients claim their positions as industry leaders.
If you’re in healthcare, insurance, technology or other professional services industries, and need help with a PR, marketing or social media campaign, contact Scott Public Relations.
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