An Ethical Dilemma
As journalists, one thing we know to be true is that our main job is to report the whole truth to the public. This moral guideline stands true for both broadcast journalism, as well as the public relations side.
Although, what if what we learned in our ethics classes ended up not mattering in the real world?What if there was a chance that our future employers, those at the top of the totem pole, could possibly be the most ethically corrupt in the business?
According to a study run by a Baylor University researcher, 30 senior public relations professionals spoke out about some of the ethical dilemmas they went through during their average of 27 years in the industry.
The senior public relations professionals gave insight into how much those at the top influence employees' moral standards and sometimes make it impossible for them to make the ethical decision just so they can appease them.
These same individuals feared that if they did choose to speak up for themselves, that they would be fired or, even worse, lose their credibility which, unlike a job, is something that they would could never get back again.
The Rise of Corporate Journalism
From sponsored content to native advertising, corporate journalism is on the rise and it looks like there is no stopping it. But what does this mean for PR people and newsroom staff?
Well, luckily, with the growth of social media, businesses are looking for ways to combine both PR and traditional journalism to create a new type of "story-telling" advertising,
PR firms are experiencing a constant growth, looking for more ways to communicate on a corporate scale. Along with this grow, and along with sponsored content and advertising, comes the switch from traditional journalism to a storytelling-like approach which advertises the company but not in a blatant way. This is done by sponsored marketing.
Paid Content: The Good and The Bad
The most form of sponsored marketing that seems to be popping up the most these days is native advertising. Native advertising is most of the time good news for corporations who want to stray from traditional advertising, but when it becomes hard to see what is and isn't paid advertising is when problems start to rise and questions of ethical standards come in to play.
Though native ads work, and most of the time they are more visually appealing than the standard journalistic ad, brands need to keep in mind that transparency is key if a company is looking to stay credible and trustworthy to its audience.
Is there a fix?
A fix to the PR industry's problem of unethical practices begins with a top-down approach. Without the CEOs and the presidents of these top companies practicing good ethics, there is no chance that their employees will do the same. The fix begins when they change their ways and start listening to individual voices in their companies, instead of just their own. It will benefit both the content produced, and will make advertising more transparent, which will help to start to changing the public's view of PR professionals to one that is more positive.