Ethical challenges in an evolving digital communication era: Coping resources and ethical trainings in corporate communications

Abstract: This study investigated the ethical challenges facing public relations professionals in today’s digital communication environment. Our research found nearly 60% of surveyed professionals reported that they faced ethical challenges in their day-to-day work, and there is a wide range of ethical challenges in digital practices. Results also revealed that professionals use various resources to deal with ethical issues. As common as experiencing ethical challenges, over 85% of surveyed professionals reported that they have participated in communication ethics training. However, only 30% of participants indicated that their ethics training took place in the past year. Our research provides solid evidence that the digital communication environment generates more ethical challenges while it creates new ways of delivering content in corporate communications. Professional associations and organizations shall dedicate efforts in providing timely ethics training to PR professionals at all levels of leadership within and beyond corporate communications.  

Ethical challenges of digital communication in public relations: A comparative study of individual, organizational, and national factors in 52 countries

Abstract: Digital communication enables PR professionals to analyze audiences using their personal data, or to distribute messages via paid channels. Although effective, these practices are often assessed critically from an ethical perspective. Several studies have highlighted how individual dispositions like gender and age, but also organizational and national backgrounds shape ethical perceptions and decisions of PR practitioners. However, a combined investigation of these micro, meso, and macro level determinants on moral assessment of the aforementioned communication practices covering a broad variety of professionals, organizations, and countries is still lacking. The research deploys a secondary analysis of merged data collected in four quantitative cross-national online surveys among PR professionals, overall comprising 5,970 respondents in five different types of organizations from 52 countries.