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    Ethics and PR Landscape survey in Africa reveals increase in unethical behaviour

    The third annual Ethics and PR Landscape survey in Africa has revealed an increase in reported cases of unethical behaviour compared to 2023.
    Source: © PRCA  The third annual Ethics and PR Landscape survey in Africa has revealed an increase in reported cases of unethical behaviour compared to 2023
    Source: © PRCA PRCA The third annual Ethics and PR Landscape survey in Africa has revealed an increase in reported cases of unethical behaviour compared to 2023

    “This trend signals a growing intolerance toward unethical conduct, with individuals increasingly willing to speak out. Recognising that in the long term, ethical businesses will contribute to an ethical economy, country and continent,” says Chanell Kemp, reputation specialist at Reputation Matters and lead researcher on the project.

    The results underscore a growing emphasis on ethics within the PR profession and the important role that PR professionals play in communicating ethics.

    The study on the state of PR and communications practice and ethics in Africa provides unprecedented insights into industry trends, challenges, and opportunities.

    One of the highlights of the research is the exploration of ethics and reputation management within the PR industry.

    The findings underscore the critical role of ethical conduct at both individual and organisational levels, with integrity and values emerging as primary drivers of ethical behaviour.

    Key findings

    Key findings include:

    • Smaller teams of '2-5 individuals' dedicated to PR are prevalent (32%), a significant proportion (14%) of larger organisations have between '11 -25 people' employed for PR roles
    • Despite progress, the majority of respondents (45%) feel that 'the role of PR and Communications is not appreciated at board level,' highlighting the need for continued efforts to elevate PR's influence in organisational decision-making.
    • Respondents express varied levels of concern regarding the potential risks or limitations of heavily relying on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in PR and communications, emphasizing the need for proactive management of AI-related challenges.
    • Amidst challenges such as corruption and governance issues, respondents advocate for proactive engagement, ethical leadership, and strategic communication to navigate the complexities of reputation management in Africa.

      Ethics are binary

      This is the fifth year that Reputation Matters has been the research partner to conduct the Ethics and PR Landscape survey in Africa.

      “Every person, entity and country has a reputation that is built through consistent behaviour, which is driven by values,” says Regine le Roux, founder and managing director of Reputation Matters.

      “Unlike reputation, ethics are binary; one is either ethical or not. You can’t be ‘a little bit’ ethical; there's no middle ground. However, questionable ethics invariably tarnish one's reputation. Which in turn impacts whether people want to be associated with, and conduct business, with you,” she explains.

      Highest responses

      The 2024 research marks a significant milestone with the highest number of responses to date, totalling 365 participants from various African countries.

      This is the third annual study from the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) Africa, and the second study in its partnership with the African Public Relations Association (APRA).

      This collaborative effort underscores PRCA Africa and APRA's commitment to advancing ethical standards and industry excellence across the African continent.

      South Africa emerged as the leading contributor with 45% of responses, followed by Zambia (19%), Nigeria (15%), and Ghana (5%).

      The survey encompassed professionals from diverse industries, with media and marketing comprising the largest segment (35%), followed by 'other' industries (18%), including communication, law, events, PR, and the energy sector

      Live panel discussion

      To mark the launch of the research findings, PRCA Africa and APRA invite industry professionals to join a live panel discussion hosted by the Ethics and Practices Network.

      Moderated by Katy Katopodis, an independent member of the Network, the panel will also feature Dustin Chick, Network chair, and Bridget von Holdt, Network board member.

      The Network will be joined by le Roux and Arik Karani, lead communications specialist (community resilience & sustainability) at Wikimedia Foundation, and current president of the Public Relations Society of Kenya.

      Together, they will explore the implications of the research findings, discuss industry advancements since 2023, and outline the path forward for 2024 and beyond.

      The panel will take place on Friday 24 May 24, from 1 pm to 2 pm SAST. The event is open, registration is free, and participants are encouraged to join the conversation and contribute to shaping the future of the PR industry in Africa.

      Secure your spot by registering here.

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