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How Ethics Plays a Role in Media Relations

As PR professionals, part of our job is fostering mutually beneficial relationships with journalists and other members of the media. But as you work alongside them, do you ever consider how the outlets they represent can support or contradict your commitment to ethics? Legitimate media sites will help strengthen honesty and advocacy—two the values in PRSA's Code of Ethics.

How do you make sure you're evaluating a media outlet's credibility? Do your research.

The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency and working with technology platforms to affirm and amplify journalism’s commitment to transparency, accuracy, inclusion, and fairness so that the public can make informed news choices.

Sally Lehrman, founder of The Trust Project, shared eight trust indicators for PR pros to look for in a 2020 Ragan webinar. Although the catalyst for her presentation was around the Presidential election, these tips are evergreen. Here are the indicators she shared, along with a question to help in your assessment:

  1. Best practices
    Are they open and honest about their policies, ownership and funding?

  2. Journalist information
    Does the journalist commonly cover these types of stories and are they credible?

  3. Label news, analysis and opinions
    Are different types of content, especially paid placements, obvious to the reader?

  4. Citations and references
    Do they properly cite their information?

  5. Methods
    Can you tell the process behind their news stories—how it was made, why it was made and who was involved in the process?

    6. Locally sourced
    Was the journalist on scene or use local sources?

  6. Diverse voices
    Is the outlet dedicated to telling stories that are inclusive and representative of the community or industry they serve?

    8. Actionable feedback
    Do they allow readers to participate and give feedback?

Newsrooms should provide clarity around these eight indicators so that PR professionals can have confidence in their sources.

Do you have any other indicators that you look for when assessing media outlets? Let us know in the comments. You can also check out more of The Trust Project's resources here: https://thetrustproject.org/resources/



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