NEW YORK: Business leaders who are most familiar with PR professionals are more likely than congressional staffers and the general public to view the industry favorably, according to a new survey by Harris Interactive and the PRSA.
The business community is also least likely to believe that marketing practices need more government regulation, the report found.
Judith Phair, PRSA president and CEO, noted that the results suggest that the industry must do a better job of educating the public about what PR is.
"The public [are more likely to be] consumers of public relations than employers," she said. "Business works more directly with PR professionals."
The survey found that 85% of both Congressional staffers and the general public believe that PR pros sometimes try to manipulate the media, compared to 67% of business leaders.
Phair noted that, in the wake of controversies over VNRs and paid spokespeople, the industry must speak out when ethical lines are crossed.
"If we don't do that ... that becomes the public perception of what public relations is all about," she said.
The survey, which was conducted between June-August, found high levels of trust in the media as well as traditional marketing tactics.
Among media outlets, public radio and broadcast stations enjoyed the most trust followed by national newspapers and then broadcast networks.
"I think that's interesting in the age of blogs, of alternative media," said Phair.
She added that the results contradict hypotheses that people are seeking information from outlets that share their ideology.
"People want objective news," she said. "That's very encouraging."