Editor’s note: In November, PRSA will celebrate PR Diversity Month by acknowledging the diverse communities, people and practices that encompass the public relations profession and by providing advice and insight on how to build a better PR industry though diversity. We’ve invited PR practitioners and thought leaders from around the country to offer their thoughts on various diversity topics affecting the PR industry. Track the series and join the discussion by using the hashtag #PRDiversity. For a full list of Diversity Month activities visit the 2014 Diversity Month section of the PRSA site.
A recent study from the Ethics Resource Center caught my attention. The report, “Generational Differences in Workplace Ethics,” noted that younger workers are more susceptible to experiencing ethical dilemmas on the job.
The report examines trends among four generational groups: Millennials (born 1981-2000), Gen X (born 1965-1980), Boomers (born 1946-1964), and Traditionalists (born 1925-1945). Significant world events and different cultural trends shaped each generation, so it is perhaps no surprise that each one shows distinct differences when it comes to ethics. The study found that certain age groups are more “at risk” on four measures of ethical performance: misconduct, pressure to compromise standards, reporting, and retaliation. According to the report, the younger the worker, the more likely he or she is to feel pressure, observe misconduct, and experience retaliation for reporting misconduct.
Editor’s Note: To commemorate PRSA Ethics Month, PRSAY is running a month-long series of posts on important issues facing the public relations profession. This is the first post in the series. An archive of ethics-related posts can be found here.
In this presidential election year, I’ve been thinking a lot about ethical leadership, not only among our elected leaders, but also among leaders in the public relations field. They have the power to inspire and motivate the new professionals who work for them, encouraging them to make ethical decisions on behalf of their clients.
PRWeek took a welcomed shot across the bow at the public relations profession with its lead editorial this month on the state of ethics in PR. Titled “Ethics mishaps of a few are a concern for the entire industry,” the piece represents a clear call to action for the profession to have an open and forthright discussion about where things stand when it comes to PR ethics.
More specifically, PRWeek’s unsigned editorial asks whether it is time for the profession to undertake a “proactive approach … that cements ethics within the very fabric of agency and in-house communications departments.”
We certainly think so. And we applaud PRWeek for shining some much-needed light on one of the profession’s most pernicious issues.
Raising the ethical standards of public relations is imperative. This is especially so in the digital age, when ethical missteps quickly gain mainstream attention and risk damaging the public’s and business community’s trust in the value of public relations.
Unfortunately, when ethical mishaps occur, what we often see is the profession engage in a swift volley of hand-wringing followed by an equally swift refusal to examine why the same issues crop up over and over. Little is accomplished but our credibility with the public and clients continues to erode.
It’s time for the profession to get serious about ethics.
Editor’s Note: To commemorate PRSA Ethics Month, PRSAY is running a month-long series of posts on important ethics issues facing the public relations profession. This is the first post in the series. An archive of ethics-related posts can be found here.
Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, YouTube and other new technologies have taken the communication industry by storm in the past five years, rapidly revolutionizing the way that public relations, advertising and marketing professionals communicate with their publics.
Seasoned and new professional communicators alike have scrambled to keep pace with these dazzling new technologies, which have enabled them to build relationships and engage their stakeholders in new, two-way dialogues. Mention the phrase “social media workshop,” and you’re likely to have a packed house for your program.
The problem, for both social media and traditional media, is that in an era of 24/7, rapid-fire communication, the ethical standards that have guided communicators for decades can fall by the wayside. Transparency may be sacrificed for speed of communication. A quick glimpse at recent headlines would give the casual reader the impression that all is wrong in the world of ethics: from The News of the World phone-hacking scandal to American PR firms providing image counsel to dictators to PR firms writing fake online product reviews on behalf of clients.
However, anecdotal evidence and research studies refute this notion. In my own ethics workshops at PRSA and PRSSA conferences, as well as my public relations classes, I’ve noticed how eagerly the students embrace ethics topics, especially small-group discussions of real-life ethics scenarios. Even the seasoned professionals whose ethical standards are tested every day on the job respond well to role-playing and discussions in these workshops. Professors also use ethics case studies, guest speakers and scenarios in a variety of public relations classes to bring the topic of ethics to life.
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PRSAY is a forum for PRSA members and other public relations professionals to engage in a dialogue with PRSA leaders, exchange viewpoints, and share perspectives on issues of concern to the Society and the public relations industry as a whole. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of PRSA.