Just 38 per cent of the 480 respondents agreed that the PR industry was fundamentally honest. Furthermore, 73 per cent believed that PR professionals lied in the course of their work.
The survey was conducted by Parker, Wayne & Kent MD Brian Ahearne in conjunction with professional networking site LinkedIn's PR and comms forums. 'Deservedly or not, the PR industry has a reputation for spin and the survey results show this perception is current among PR people themselves,' claimed Ahearne.
Three in four of those surveyed said PROs did not have an obligation to communicate information that may damage their clients. Just 29 per cent believed that withholding information was morally equivalent to lying.
Only 12 per cent admitted to claiming or disseminating false information in the course of their work, while almost half of respondents felt the CIPR code was not explicit enough about honesty. Twenty-three per cent said their client or boss expected them to lie on their behalf.
'The results reveal a streak of cynicism within the PR industry, with the vast majority of PROs claiming personal probity, yet criticising their industry peers,' said Ahearne. However, Golin- Harris MD Matt Neale said the results demonstrated the polarised nature of the UK PR industry. 'Clearly, if you work for "Nikki", who's slept with a footballer, no one is going to care if it was three or four times a night.
'If you work for Unilever, you have to tell the truth or you'll damage your reputation. If your boss is asking you to lie for him or her, then you should find another job.'