It’s clear that the ethical challenges facing public relations professionals are increasingly complicated and listening and reflecting have never been more important. Who could have guessed that in 2020 we would have to navigate through a global pandemic, address the importance of honesty in politics and craft position statements around racial justice issues — all in the scope of a few months?
The needs and expectations of the public are changing, and as stewards of the profession, what’s expected of professionals is changing as well.
PR professionals are expected to serve as the “corporate conscience” of their organizations. Industry studies show the public’s desire for companies to take stands on tough issues. However, when companies do take stands, they must prepare for backlash from stakeholders who disagree. Establishing ethical standards is key to building and maintaining relationships between organizations and their publics.
The advancements in social media and the rapid-fire changes within the industry have introduced a bevy of new issues as well. Navigating the ethical challenges presented by misinformation, disclosure and transparency in virtual environments can be a struggle for even the most seasoned practitioners.
According to the Commission on Public Relations, there is a growing level of mistrust of institutions, businesses and government organizations by the public. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Study echoes this sentiment: “Despite a strong global economy and near full employment, none of the four societal institutions that the study measures — government, business, NGOs and media — is trusted.” As we near the end of 2020, with an economy ravaged by job loss and shuttered businesses, political discontent and racial unrest spreading across most of the country, trust in societal institutions has been diminished even further.
Traditionally, professionals could agree to follow the PRSA Code of Ethics when challenges arose, and that was enough.
Now, PR professionals must also be ready to take action and apply the professional values and conduct provisions in a wide variety of situations, many of them without precedent. They must understand how ethical decision-making shapes an organization. They must also be willing to defend those ethical principles.
To help you be prepared for the ethical challenges you face today, PRSA Detroit’s Ethics Committee completely revamped its ethics quiz, first posted in 2013.
The quiz was originally designed to test your knowledge and show your commitment to upholding the ethical standards of PRSA and the public relations profession. Now, in addition to testing what you know, the questions are designed to expose you to ethical dilemmas you may not have experienced to reflect on your decision making. The situations are based on real-world dilemmas from various industries including education, health care, automotive, sports, hospitality, nonprofits and technology. These questions push you to consider the nature of the organizations involved as well as the societal implications of your decisions.
So, challenge yourself to make the ethical choice. Take our ethics quiz today!
By: The PRSA Detroit Ethics Committee
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