For centuries the public relations profession has had a bad reputation of providing false information. The public will often excuse public relation officials of “spinning words”. Public relation officials have been known as manipulators for this reason and as a result PR has become know as one of the most unethical professions. The PRSA is doing everything in their power to eliminate this bad reputation, even enforcing a code of ethics that all members must abide to after taking an oath.
Big data is helping to bring PR out of the dark ages in hopes of tarnishing this awful reputation. You see with the public relations profession starting to use big data it’s hard to provide false information that you can blame on the PR officials themselves. Big data uses “powerful monitoring and social media intelligence tools, pulling and analyzing large sets of data…” prsa.org. In other words big data provides public relation professionals with information received by analyzing Internet activity. For example you can use big data to find out what social media outlet middle school children most often with a small margin of error.
Big data is helping the PRSA advance into the future with a positive outlook of the public relations profession.
The PRSA holds the title of the world’s largest organization of Public Relations officials. Working in public relations you are responsible for creating and maintaining connections between your company and the public. In order to do so, public relations officials must collect information on the public that they are looking to attract and draw interest to their company. Valuable information such as a person’s likes or interests really helps when you are looking for your target audience. Big Data provides public relations officials with this kind of information by analyzing Internet activity.
Before big data was around this type of data was collected by questionnaires, interviews, and direct observations. While all of these techniques work in there own way and are efficient, they can be flawed. The main reason why questionnaires and interviews do not work as well as big data is because people just do not want to participate. For example, how many times has a register worker handed you your receipt while asking you to participate in the online survey at the bottom and you have actually participated? Most people do not participate and lack of participation leads to lack of data collected. Using big data gives you the information you need without the worry of lack of participation, which is just one of the many components that makes big data the future of the PRSA.
PSRA: Then & Now
The PSRA has not always been around, for a company of this importance it has been around for a very short period of time. Before I get a head of myself let me answer the question, what even is the PRSA? “Chartered in 1947, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the world’s largest and foremost organization of public relations professionals. PRSA provides professional development, sets standards of excellence and upholds principles of ethics for its members and, more broadly, the multi-billion dollar global public relations profession. We also advocate for greater understanding and adoption of public relations services, and act as one of the industry’s leading voices on the important business and professional issues of our time.” – prsa.org
The PRSA enforces a code of ethics to ensure that all of their members maintain the core values of the public relations profession. Together they strive for advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty, and fairness. The PRSA released their first code of ethics in 1950 (a revamped code was later on released in 2000 due to changing times and flaws in the initial code). The purpose of this code was to clean up the bad reputation the profession was known for and maintain good standings.
The public relations profession has a bad reputation of being able to twist words around. We are known as manipulators that are only in it for the money and as one of the most unethical professions. This stereotype was started and spread around the way most stereotypes are started- history. PR has been around long before the PRSA . Not having an association like this around gave public relations professionals’ free reign. While I would like to think the majority of people working in PR back in the day had the best intentions, that might not have been the case- especially in the 1930s when money was the main priority for most families across America.
Even the first code of ethics had its flaws in maintaining the PRSA’s core values to the point that a revamped code was released in 2000. This new and improved code focuses on helping practitioners learn how to be ethical and to detect, deter and avoid unethical behavior.
Nowadays, the PRSA not only keeps our profession ethical and our reputation free but also creates network connections across all plains of the field. It gives public relations professionals the opportunity to reach out to other people in their same profession in order to enhance their professional success.