What obligation do strategic communicators (Ad & PR) have in terms of goodwill toward the audience AND are they fulfilling this obligation?
If I am to take the stance of an obligation to the audience then I am assuming that the human race has an obligation to morality. Taking this stance for this blog post strategic communicators should take this even more seriously given that they are on elevated platforms and have access to a greater audience.
The job most advertisers and public relations professionals take on themselves is achieving the clients goal(s), whatever that may be. This leaves much room for some unethical decisions, and often times just bad ones. I suppose some can argue it is ethical to do your job and do it well regardless of what it takes, however, the public may disagree. PETA ads and guerilla marketing are known for their controversy and the social warfare they start. Without this sort of pushing-the-envelope strategy I have to wonder if they would be as well known as they are now. While unethical, it does do the job and achieve the awareness the organization seeks.
While it is tough to determine what is ethical and unethical at times, strategic communicators greatly influence culture and with this power they can choose to do good or bad. Using unethical ways to promote a brand and get people talking is almost an easy cop-out in the digital age. Professional strategic communicators should take it upon themselves to find strategies and tactics that achieve the agency and client goals without compromising anyone or using unethical material. Often times now I feel that the social obligation to the audience is often forgotten being shadowed by the client’s wishes. If the client is happy, the agency is happy, and you still have a job, but if the clients wants and needs are not met the way they want this can mean less than pleasant outcomes for you.
Knowing this power and the influence that they hold I hope these communicators will adjust the way things have been done before and strive to make a new way of providing ethical content and strategy while still achieving the goals set by them. This is where true innovation and creativity can be found, not when the sky is the limit but when you have to make something work within boundaries, but in a way that will have the same great amount of impact that a more controversial and unethical approach would have.