Defending the Truth

    Did you happen to catch the tidbit in last month’s Public Relations Tactics? Fake news doesn’t pay. According to a recent survey from Origin/Hill Holiday on consumer confidence amid fake news anxiety, 59 percent of respondents (ages 18-61) say that “if a brand they love presented fake content, then they would stop shopping for that brand. Thirty percent even insisted that they’d delete that brand’s app.”

    As PR practitioners and members of PRSA who are bound by a Code of Ethics, we know that we have a duty to tell the truth and to correct misinformation as soon as we become aware of it. In fact, the PRSA Code of Ethics specifically states, “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.”

    Not only is that our ethical duty, but consumers are telling us this is what they expect as well.  In that same study, 64 percent of respondents said they they’re more likely to shop with a brand that is truthful and transparent about its business.

    Transparency and truth build trust. When truth is betrayed, it damages and may even permanently eradicate trust. We can’t function without a minimum of trust either as PR professionals or within our everyday personal lives. Would you buy a car from someone you didn’t trust? Or ride an elevator if you didn’t trust that it was safe? Or drop your child with a childcare provider that you didn’t trust? Of course not.

    Trust also bonds our relationships with our clients, our stakeholders, our communities and our customers. It is the stock and trade of our business. But what happens when the ethical choice is not as clear or black and white as truth vs. fake news? Did you know that PRSA has a Code of Ethics app available for free in Google Android Market and Apple’s App Store, and can be accessed from iPhone, iPad and Android devices, or that we have an Ethics Officer who is available to assist you if you have an ethical concern?

    I’ll be sharing more about these and many other ethics resources as we head into Ethics Month and through the remainder of the year. Stay tuned….

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