In Portugal, there is a widely used popular saying in the lines of "the shoemaker's children are the worst shod". This popular wisdom has come to my mind while thinking that, in this country, Public Relations companies have not been very careful in protecting their reputation.
Of course, most companies in the market, namely those affiliated with APECOM, are governed by criteria generally conforming to the Code of Ethics of this business association. However, our PR activities are prone to questioning. For example, the fact that one of our aims is to change the perceptions of the target audience is widely misunderstood and arises distrust and suspicion. Over time, this has created an image that is quite negative.
It is time for the Portuguese market to change their target audiences' perceptions about the market itself. And in my opinion, now seems like a good time.
Let us look at the evidence: Portugal is entering the era of fake news. The debate over the credibility of sources is on, and it is time for us to show that communication companies are professional sources based on ethics that ensure the reliability of news.
We could also add value by assuring our clients that the influencers' services are transparent. We need to separate the good from the bad and we have the capabilities to do it.
As for lobbying, it is still, unfortunately, an unregulated activity in Portugal. There have been a few attempts in that respect, all unsuccessful. We are badly in need of legislation to regulate the lobbying activity. Portugal is one of the European countries most affected by corruption and the numbers are rising. Only a lobbying activity based on professionalism and ethics to replace the current corruption-prone informality will reverse the situation. APECOM, the public relations business association, has been following the whole process to ensure balanced legislation in line with the sector's expectations.
Public relations is going through a time of profound changes. This is the right time for us to redefine, consolidate and communicate our procedures, old and new. To demand ethical conduct from the market, both internally and externally. And to show the world the importance of public relations, the transparency of our methods and the ethics of our conduct.
Who supports ONGs in fundraising? Who supports the change of nefarious behaviours such as domestic violence? Who promotes more and better legislation? Who promotes more and better information? The answer is obvious: public relations professionals.
To do more and better, we need to extend the ethical attitude to all communication companies and their professionals. We also need to make sure target audiences understand, once and for all, that our business is transparent and useful. And that without it…it would not be the same thing.