PR Professionals Role
PR professionals act as problem solvers for companies, corporations and government entities when a conflict arises. But they also act as internal and external communicators, reputation mangers and event planners. When a problem happens, "What do you know?" and "When did you know it?" are two common questions that are asked. Damage control is equally important to preventing problems for public relations professionals because it is all about protecting their employer's reputation and image.
PR's Obligation to it's Organization
PR agencies are there as counsel to management, as well as to serve the public interest. However, sometimes they are wrapped up in the politics of an organization and are asked to act unethically due to pressures from their superiors. A study done by a Baylor University researcher found that public relations professionals are often afraid to speak out against their higher-ups, and that it takes a lot of courage to speak out on sensitive ethical issues. Participants who were interviewed in the study worked as senior public relations professionals in the past, and some said they were too afraid of being fired or demoted for refusing to follow orders, even if it demanded them to act unethically. Some even mentioned that they were fired for refusing to lie in a press release. Others were worried about their credibility and said, "I can’t afford to lose my credibility… As PR professionals, it’s all we have. And if I lose my credibility here, it’s not like I can just go start over with someone else, somewhere else." This is an internal issue public relations professionals' experience in dealing with it's obligation to their organization.
Corporate Journalism Takeover
The world of journalism is vastly changing. A generation of journalists who worked as reporters in the past have switched professions and now work as public relations professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4.6 public relations specialists for every reporter in 2013, which is a big increase than the 3.2 to 1 in 2004. The salary gap between positions is one of the reasons why there has been such a large jump in the field. The article "Brace yourself for the corporate journalism wave" said that in 2013, public relations specialists earned a median annual income of $54,940 compared with $35,600 for reporters. This is part of the explanation and reasoning for the corporate journalism takeover.