NEW YORK: Pros are happy to practice PR without a qualification. But the issue of ethics continues to make the industry uneasy - and many pros are even willing to embrace a drastic ethical certification process in order to salvage the credibility and reputation of their profession.
The PRWeek Ethics Survey, which sampled the opinions of 1,700 PR professionals, found that however much the industry recoils from accusations of spinning - and however much it preaches the virtues of honesty at all costs - its record is far from squeaky clean:
- 25% of PR pros admit they have lied in their job;
- 39% have exaggerated in the course of their work;
- 62% are not always able to check out the validity of information they impart.
But however disturbing the implications of these statistics may be, they reveal only half the picture. The survey also shows the ethical challenges that are inherent in PR:
- 62% of respondents have been 'compromised' in their job, either by being told a lie or being denied access to the full story;
- 44% admit that they have felt uncertain about the ethics of a task
they were required to perform;
- Only 31% believe that ethical boundaries in the PR industry have been clearly defined.
The survey also highlights the upright ethical position adopted by the majority of PR pros. As well as the obvious fact that 75% of pros claimed to have not lied, 53% of respondents said they have declined to work on an account or project because of ethical concerns, while 19% said they have resigned from a job because of ethical discomfort. And clearly, people in the profession are concerned enough about the issue of ethics to endorse more stringent requirements. Though only 20% of PR pros are APR-certified, 50% of respondents would support an ethical certification - even if it meant that if they did not conform to its guidelines, they could be thrown out of the profession.
- See Editorial, p12; Ethics Survey results, p18.