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Communication Ethics in a Connected World

Research in Public Relations and Organisational Communication

Edited By Andrea Catellani, Ansgar Zerfass and Ralph Tench

What are the main ethical challenges for strategic communication and public relations professionals today? How can researchers help in understanding and dealing with these challenges in a complex and interconnected world? This book offers some answers to these questions, based on contributions by researchers from different European countries and other continents. The chapters of the first section focus on general concepts about communication and public relations ethics as well as corporate social responsibility. Three sections then deal with: the specific situation of communication and PR ethics in various European countries; the evolution of ethical skills of communication professionals; and the interaction between communication ethics and the public sphere. The final two sections offer insights on recent research in public relations, like employee communication and engagement, mentoring in public relations and the evolution of media relations and social media communication.
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Ethical Engagement of Public Relations Practitioners in a Connected World. Results of an Empirical Study in Austria


Ethical Engagement of Public Relations Practitioners in a Connected World

Results of an Empirical Study in Austria


University of Salzburg, Austria

Although ethics has become an on-going topic in public relations literature in many countries, there has been little examination of how public relations practitioners in Austria know and think about ethical codes and principles. Based on a quantitative survey among 2,585 practitioners working in companies and communication agencies, the research presented in this chapter sheds light on ethical knowledge, attitudes towards moral principles, and factors related to attitudes towards ethics.


Public Relations is an occupational field characterised by many different views. However, there are regulations and guidelines as recommendations with a view to ethics. It is likely, however, that many professionals do not know the rules. According to Großkurth (2006, p. 58), only 7% of PR practitioners in Germany know the Code d’Athènes or the Code de Lisbonne. Bentele and Seidenglanz (2004, p. 56) noted that only 17% of Germany’s population trust public relations experts. This might be an indication for a limited ethical engagement of practitioners. In Austria, prominent cases of non-ethical practices like those of Ernst Strasser, a former member of the European parliament caught when selling his knowledge to third parties, or Peter Hochegger, a corrupted owner of a large communication agency, have been widely reported. Are those exceptional cases or the tip of an iceberg of undesired...

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