Ethical communication in the professional practice of public relations in Cape Town, South Africa
Author(s)Igboanugo, Sunday Chukwunonye
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AbstractDissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Master of Technology: PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGEMENT in the Faculty of Informatics and Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology
This study investigates ethical communication practice in the professional practice of Public Relations in South Africa. Using Public Relations professional bodies (PRISA and IABC) and Public Relations firms based in Cape Town, the study sought to understand how ethical communication is conceptualised and practised by public relations practitioners. Literature reveals that ethical communication in Public Relations has been shaped by two dominant views. The early, simplistic paradigm conceptualised ethical communication as dialogic and symmterical communication. It views ethical communication as counter-argument. This paradigm has been critiqued in favour of a more contemporary paradigm that regards ethical communication in terms of dialogic values such as honesty, openness, loyalty, fair-mindedness, respect, integrity and forthright communication. Using dialogic, symmetrical communication and a reflective paradigm of public relations as its theoretical framework, this study analyses how Public Relations practitioners and professional bodies conceptualise ethical communication. Results from the study reveal that ethical communication as a phenomenon is still subject to various interpretations. The study reveals that fostering ethical communication by professional bodies is often hampered by the existence of untrained Public Relations personnel. This study seeks to make a theoretical contribution towards the understanding of ethical communication amongst Public Relations and professional bodies. It shows that there is need for Public Relations professionals to develop a more holistic understanding of ethical communication in order to raise the quality of Public Relations practitioners? ethical behaviour and increase the legitimacy and value of public relations studies to society.