The majority of public relations professionals predict that in just five years the average person will not be able to distinguish between news stories and advertising copy, and what’s more, most people won’t even care.
This is the main finding of a survey of more than 1,000 public relations leaders and students worldwide conducted by the Center for Public Relations at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Forty-two percent of PR professionals believe the trend toward “branded content” is a potential ethical issue. Even more, 52 per cent, are concerned about the practice of paying influencers to create promotional.
Fighting fake news
Clearly the PR profession is really worried about the viability of real news media. I agree. Professional ethics is one of the reasons I am a proud member and leader in IABC. Abiding by a strict code of ethics is a condition of membership and it sets us apart from shady players and practices.
Change is in the air. People are demanding transparency and accountabilty of their news sources (and count Facebook among them). But they’ll have to be willing to pay for news if we are going to head off the bleak future predicted in this survey.
You can get the full report here.