Monday, October 7, 2013

Letting Transparency Guide Public Relations

Shawn Rudolph

The Public Relationship

Our actions have reactions.  Public relations is a necessary component of the corporate world, because some actions need prevented and some reactions need orchestrated.  Public relations employees carefully prevent poor mistakable actions through research and systematically address reactions through similar research. 

With the evolution of technology, information circulates at quicker paces throughout competitors and newsrooms across the world than 10 years ago.  No detail is too fine, and any misreporting can result in heavy media coverage.  The better-known public relations scandals are met with serious criticism, reviews and satire. 

When News of the World faced global scrutiny after a phone-tapping scandal, satirists around the world took to humiliating the actions of the Rupert Murdoch News Corporation.  American satirists like John Stewart on his television show The Daily Show and Bill Maher on his television show Real Time with Bill Maher, drew attention to a parent company that was previously not a household name.   The criticism trickled down to other news organizations under the Murdoch name, including Fox News in the United States.  Fox News has gained notoriety for misrepresenting information, committing logical fallacies and biased reporting.  Due to public relations difficulties, Fox News has had its programs parodied by Saturday Night Live.  It would not be a stretch to see the connection of the two instances of public relations scandals.  The global company standard of breaking and popular news stresses the normal model of unbiased news reporting.  Pandering to polarized views of public interests or news brings viewers from any perspective to attention. 

Transparency Adoption

Transparency is the best policy.  When details are meant for distribution to a public audience, no finite mistakes will insincerely cause a scandal. Making an innocent error is different than purposefully smudging numbers or a phone-tapping scandal.  Mistakes happen.  However, a mistake implies accident, and a company can sincerely apologize for accidents. Misleading the public is not as forgivable. 

Public relations professionals fight for transparency and ethical guidelines. According to Shane McLaughlin in an article titled, "A New Era for Communicating Values," in The Strategist, Cheryl N. Campbell, VP of Corporate Communications and Public Relations for the Customer Care Solutions Provider for Convergys Corporation, invokes employee surveying in order to hear from the employees on matters of finances and company efficiency.  Evaluation from the employees of a company on finances and speed/effectiveness of processes will open doors for honest communication, which will prevent any pressure that leads to intentional misrepresentation of information.  Feedback keeps any organization growing and cognizant of the company atmosphere.
  • Accountability helps management control responsibility for reports and stories.  
  • Accountability requires honesty to prevent public relations disasters. 
  • Accountability needs communicated from employee evaluation and management review. 

Getting caught on the wrong side

A Walker’s Information Integrity in the Workplace 2001 National Employee Benchmark study showed a dramatic increase in employee ease reporting violations—from one-third to one-half of employees. 

Accidents will happen.  Between 2001 and 2013 it isn’t too unbelievable to imagine employees feel even more comfortable reporting violations of their peers.  News breaks from more anonymous sources now than before, and negative press will happen.  The prevention and reaction to negative events requires public relation specialists to work for and in most companies.

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