How ethics in PR needs to evolve

There is a need for the PR and communications industry to level-up its knowledge on technology according to the latest PRCA Ethics Council’s Annual Perspective which talks to PR thought leaders in 20 countries worldwide. Other key themes highlighted by the discussions are:

Key themes

  • The tension between innovation, ethics, and risk management.
  • The opportunity for PR professionals to pioneer new forms of audience engagement in the metaverse.
  • Looming reputational risks, including breaches of user/consumer privacy, deepfakes, misinformation and cybercrime.

Observations

The quotes below highlight how ethics in PR must evolve.

There is a need for a trustworthy digital environment

Most virtual companies are still struggling to live with a blatant dichotomy, inherent to the digital economy: they want to interact liberally with users (and their data) but also require a trustworthy environment to engage with consumers.” Vu-Quan Nguyen-Masse, MPRCA, VP culture ad brand Asean, Vero

The challenge is to get a wider perception of ethical PR

We need to take a broader, philosophical view of how we might apply ethical practice when considering both the dangers and potential of the metaverse and other emerging technology. Simply, the challenge here isn’t the technology itself, but our wider perception of ethical PR.” Eloïne Barry, MPRCA, CEO, African Media Agency

It is vital to rebuild trust

In a world where seeing is no longer believing, the only way to establish and retain trust is via ethics, accountability, transparency, and human-centric design.” Khaled Alshehhi, MPRCA, executive director of marketing and communications, UAE Government Media Office

PR must be proactive in AI

“The PR industry should not just wait for what happens in AI and communications technology but proactively contribute and influence. We need to work with international and national policymakers to secure transparency and ethical use of personal data in the development and use of AI.” Christina Forsgård, ICCO ethics chair and founder, Netprofile

We must approach the metaverse positively and sincerely

It’s clear that the metaverse is going to be difficult to get right, and that’s fine. What’s important is that we follow a process that leads us to choose to represent clients who are approaching it positively and sincerely. This may well mean that agencies need to reassess the power dynamic of the client-agency relationship - and assume a higher position than we currently do.” Caroline Hsu, MPRCA, chief global officer, The Hoffman Agency

Background

The second edition of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) Ethics Council’s Annual Perspective has essays from diverse PR thought leaders in 20 countries worldwide - this year, focusing on the theme: Engaging in the metaverse, NFTs, AI and new technology.

Written by Mary Beth West, co-chair Ethics Council at PRCA

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