Social media and ethics – implications for PR practitioners

While there are umpteen opportunities, there are also an increasing number of challenges that PR and communications management practitioners face in the online world (especially social media). Among other issues, ethical dilemmas are now becoming something practitioners have to deal with on a daily basis.

Dr. Margalit Toledano and Levarna Fay Wolland’s research paper (Ethics 2.0: A social media implication for professional communicators) identifies the current major ethical topics on the profession’s agenda and considers their implications for practitioners.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Dr. Toledano. (Click here, for the full interview).

What are some of the ethical challenges that PR practitioners face in the social media communications environment?

Using evidence from focus groups and interviews with NZ practitioners, my research identified ethical concerns around transparency, ease of deception, control of media agenda, employee communication rights, and tensions between a practitioner’s personal and organisational voice…

Do you think that the line between private and professional use of social media has an impact on ethical PR practice?

Practitioners who participated in my research were uncertain about what they could and could not say in private online publications. They also expressed resentment about the fact that executives expected communication consultants to engage in online conversations on their behalf…

What is the value, if any, of professional training in keeping up with challenges of the social media ethics?

I personally believe that the future of public relations depends on practitioners taking responsibility for the ethical behaviour of organisations. Instead of covering up failures and irresponsible behaviour, they could initiate employee training programmes in social media and in ethical communication – online and offline…


PRINZ Professional Development Course – Social Media Boot Camp
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