Millennials Facing Professional Ethics in Public Relations

The time has finally come for Millennials to storm the workforce, although it is happening in a different way than previous generations have done. While professionalism is still revered among them, there is a certain open-mindedness to new opportunities, and in fact a purposeful search for them. However, in modern days with a public emphasis on remaining as broadly inclusive as possible, and not to “step on anyone’s toes”, many in the professional workforces find themselves hesitant to do and say what is truly on their minds when necessary. 

This combined with the availability of forces like social media and other platforms, everyone has a voice to make their feelings known. Given the current political climate, ethics is a very talked about hot topic in forms from White House press releases to journalists reporting trending news topics and much more in between in every industry. Ethics is a major question in this society of skepticism in which every motive is questioned to reach a conclusion. Even in modern times of media, Public Relations remains a powerful tool to reach the masses. With Millennials now taking the wheel, a new era of PR is being created.  
  In a study done by Baylor University, it was stated that Millennials are not feeling equipped to make decisions or give advice to companies pertaining to ethical behavior. This leads to the fear that perhaps a shift is coming for the industry. Possibly this fear is in place due to the rift between generations, most prevalently Millennials and Baby Boomers. Millennials are offering a cultural and generational change to not only the way things are seen in the world but also the ways in which they are done. They seem to take immense pride in their own ethics, social responsibility, and motives. Still, in the face of such immense change, Millennials are looked at with eyes of doubt from older generations in PR and other networks.

In a study done by Deloitte, 58% of Millennials believe corporations are moving in a more ethical direction, but 64% also believed that those same corporations have “no ambition” beyond simply turning a profit. This begins to illustrate the many studies into just how open-minded and awake or “woke” the members of Generation Y are. They want these industries to look up and improve in means of ethical behavior and are willing and able to incite that change. While the study done by Baylor University alleges to find that working PR Millennials lack the confidence and drive to truly provoke ethical honesty and change, their very culture and world connections seem to deny those claims. Of course, this does not imply that Millennials are perfect, as that is not the case for any generation. 

Still, Millennials are seeming to be more open to developing the workforce in a more positive and overall ethically sound direction. In 2015, Nielsen published an annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report in which it was stated that Millennials expect the businesses and corporations they support not only maintain sustainability but also to be ethically conscious.
To put it very simply, not only do Millennials wish for a more open and aware world, but they are willing and able to grab the reins and promote this change. It is difficult to precisely define any one generation without making sweeping generalizations in terms of personality traits and mindsets. Still, it is thought that Millennials are the most confident and outspoken than many previous generations. With modern poise and emphasis on honesty in the working world, it is a formula for success in the application of ethics to Public Relations practices. 

Each generation seems to look to the next in both mixed criticism and hope for the future. Those in the workplace and in the consumer world have varying opinions or generalizations on the topics of Millennials and their actions in the world. For a generation so focused on bettering the world, it is not so impossible to consider that perhaps these individuals are responsible and conscious enough to not only recognize how to offer advice in terms of ethics, but maybe even offer ways to improve the acts and guidelines of ethical, or more importantly unethical, behaviors in the PR workplace. 

Source Links:

Landrum, S. (2017). Millennials And Quality: The Search For a Better Everything. Retireved From:

N.A. (2017). Millennials in PR don’t feel ready to give companies advice on moral dilemmas, study finds. 

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Neill, M. and Weaver, N. (2016). How Millennials Deal with Ethical Dilemmas, Study by PRSA & The 

Arthur W. Page Center. Retrieved From: