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By The Pollack Group

USC’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism recently released their annual 2018 USC GlobalCommunication Report with the input of global public relations leaders from agencies and corporations as to “where the communications field is headed.”  PR students were also asked as to what they think about the profession they will lead someday.  

The report this year focused on the evolution of ethics. Considering that ethics within the communication industry has always been at the epicenter of decision-making, according to Fred Cook, director of USC’s Center for Public Relations, “ethics has come into sharper focus recently due to changing attitudes about technology, transparency, and even truth.” 

Unethical behavior has come under scrutiny through social media feedback and can have life-changing results as in firing, being arrested or going bankrupt. The prevalence of fake news, branded content and paid influencers are, according to the report, all triggers that can pinpoint ethical questions.  Cook emphasized that the “blurring of fact and fiction impacts everyone whose career is centered on building credibility.”

Based on questions asked, here are some of the resulting facts:

Expected change in the industry:

Agencies: 60% thought it would be considerable with a close 55% for in-house professionals. Yet only 36% of these thought that their companies were prepared to adapt to that level of change.

What will drive the change?

The top four:

87% believe it is the changing media landscape

82% technological innovations

77% greater access to data

65% disruption of traditional business models

While others cited to a lesser degree shifting demographics, budgets, competition, diverse workforce global economics, talent and gov. regulations

What will be the necessary skills in the next five years:

The top three:

89% feel strongly that it will fall to strategic planning

84% leadership and written communications

83% social media

79% multimedia content

Followed by data and analytics, crisis management and more. Ethics Counseling was cited at 52%

The report also found that more agencies are optimistic about increased budgets (86%) compared to in-house professionals, who expect an average growth of only 19%.

You can download the full report here.