Whether you're writing a personal ethics statement or creating the ethics statement for a large organization, one must be extremely critical with the words that they use. The reality is that when you establish a set of values, whether it is done intentionally or by allowing a reputation to develop, then you (either as an individual or as an organization) will then be held to that standard.
Maintaining a set of ethical standards is of critical importance to anyone who intends to become a successful public relations professional. By setting a standard for the behaviors and actions of its employees or members, an organization can more effectively and efficiently regulate itself. By declaring its values, the company or the organization can then strive to meet those values much more purposefully. I have decided to share my own personal ethics and values statement below, and below I will elaborate on why I believe that these ethics reflect who I am, both as a person and as a professional.
While they are each extremely overly wordy, and sound like they were written by someone trying to create a knock-off imitation of Ben Franklin's famous virtues, I think that these values describe me as a professional well.
One personal trait I am most proud of is my restraint; it is far too easy to contribute too much to a discussion, and drown out the opinions, the beliefs and the ideas of others. Additionally, this plays to another philosophy I've always tried to follow: this entails not always contributing to discussions, as being known as the person who always has something to say As a person who will be working in the communications field, restraint is important.
The next virtue is moderation, which is quite simple to explain; In as many contexts as possible, I do my best to maintain my objectivity when thinking through things. To that end, I've learned that it is helpful to not over-commit to any one given idea, or to over-react to any given stimuli. For instance, it is important to never be afraid to change a plan half way, and it is similarly important to never stress or panic for having to do so.
Efficiency, Pride and Humility are all largely self-explanatory, in that they have the same meaning in this context as they would in any other; Work hard, work fast, recognize when you're good at something but always remember that someone out there is better. These are important to remember in competitive fields like public communications, but I believe that awareness is the next most important trait for a PR professional to have. Part of this involves being pragmatic, in recognizing when some issues may not necessarily be issues (See: Barbra Streisand) and acting accordingly. A public relations professional in any field should always go to as many lengths as possible to ensure that they are acting on complete and accurate information, such that they can work truthfully and effectively.
What is the point of this long post, you may ask? The answer is simple; ethics are difficult to put into words. And once they are actually printed, they become even more difficult to follow, as people will interpret these ethical standards differently, and determine whether they are being followed by themselves. This is the case with the individual's code of ethics, and the larger organization. Regardless of who you are, or the work that you may be doing, going about that work ethically will invariably make your brand more trusted and more positively-considered by the public.
Newhouse Speaks: On Artificial Intelligence & Journalism; Consequences and Opportunities in Emerging Tech
Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of sitting in on parts of a series of panels that discussed the ramifications or implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and its advancing role in journalism, media actions and receptions, and the potential consequences of that role. The two panels that I attended were very interesting. From the Syracuse website: "Artificial intelligence is making its way from tech giants to media organizations. Magazines have launched chatbots, and daily news organizations to use AI to automate articles about corporate earnings or baseball games. These panels will explore issues this nascent technology raises in journalism."
The first of the two panels involved presentations from multiple members of the Newhouse Public Relations Department, two of whom I have worked with relatively extensively. Professors Joon Soo Lim, PhD, and Regina Luttrell, PhD. made up a part of the team that had evidently done significant and extensive research into the field of how age and other demographic variables influenced the ways in which media and news consumers responded to AI. In an extremely abbreviated presentation, it was made clear that though many of us have used or otherwise come into contact with AI, very few of us actually understood or cared to understand what the potential ramifications are. Some of the more ubiquitous avenues through which we use AI were detailed by the presenters; Smart speakers, translation apps, chat-boxes, photo classification, twitter bots, home automation, all of these served to represent an entity that is rapidly expanding its role in the modern world.
This was expanded upon by the next panel, which discussed the concepts of AI in the newsroom. The presentation had a somewhat where-we-are-now and where-we-plan-on-being dichotomy, in that the presenters each had something to say about where and how their respective organizations were currently implementing AI, and where they each hoped to be in the future. This panel was made up of representatives from Bloomberg, AP and The Intercept, and links to their respective pages and profiles can be found here. What struck me most about their presentation (I lost the notepad on which I recorded who said what) was the fact that AI systems already had such a massive role in the functions of the news media. In the newsroom, there are AI-based systems that are doing everything from continually scanning the web for new stories or noteworthy events, transcribing video news broadcasts or segments, or regulating comment sections for online news organizations. Each of these responsibilities (and I'm sure many more) have been largely delegated to automated, AI-based systems. To that same end, as the world becomes ever more interconnected, each of the three represented organizations said that they will likely be looking to expand the role of AI in their day-to-day functions.
As a future/current public relations professional, there are a number of things that sprang to mind during the lecture. My first thought, and one that has largely stuck with me since is that the field is changing. Social media, news distribution and advertising have, until the advent of AI, really played on the same field. Humans were responsible for planning, coordinating and executing an action in the hopes of achieving some sort of objective. AI is going to make it a lot easier for organizations to streamline the planning and coordination phases, and will likely cut down on the labor necessary for execution as well. In our classwork, for instance, if we had some sort of AI-system in place, analyzing the shortcomings and successes of our Meltwater simulations, then our work would have been made much easier, because we could identify and address weak-points, solidify our strong-points and generally increase the ROI of our paid advertising. I can only imagine what the continued implementation of AI will do to the communications field, moving forward. One can only hope that the marketplace, our legal systems, regulatory bodies and other entities that make up our society can adapt fast enough.
This blog was originally created for coursework while at the Newhouse School. But this blog quickly became something more, as it gave me a platform, however small, on which to share my thoughts. So feel free to read through these posts, and if you like what you read, please share. Enjoy.