Fake news and the deliberate distortion of the truth have been cited as the biggest ethical threats to the public relations (PR) industry. This is according to the 2018 Global Communications Report, a comprehensive survey of public relations leaders and students worldwide, released recently by the Centre for Public Relations at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. According to the report, 42% of PR professionals believe the trend towards “branded content” is a potential ethical issue. An even greater number (52%) are concerned about the related, fast-growing practice of paying celebrities, YouTubers or Instagrammers to create content that promotes various products and brands. Not surprisingly, PR executives predict a decline of resources devoted to earned media over the next five years, as owned and paid media budgets continue to grow. The majority of global communications executives (92%) cited fake news as the most challenging ethical threat to their profession...

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