Improper practices in Austria’s PR industry

PR Agency Germany - Industrie-Contact
Improper practices in Austria’s PR industry

Credibility of media and PR sector at risk

According to, the PR Ethics Council has begun with a call for an open discourse on “forbidden practices in communication”, because the credibility of media and PR is at stake. It’s about linkages, content marketing and fake posting. The boundaries between journalism, advertising, PR and unfair practices are becoming increasingly blurred.

Gabriele Faber-Wiener, the chairman of the Austrian PR Ethics Council, together with journalism professor Sabine Einwiller has carried out a survey of initially 16 PR professionals. The statements that the two received were given a rather gloomy picture of the situation of public relations in Austria, although it cannot be assumed that the situation in Germany can be judged entirely differently.

Transcending borders on the everyday agenda

The interaction between the three players customers, agencies and media has obviously changed. Crossing borders is the order of the day. Thus reports that customers place orders for fake postings, for example. In general, the categories seem to have begun to float due to so-called content marketing. Content marketing attempts to place advertising messages in the editorial area without these being marked as advertisements. According to § 26 of the Austrian media law, however, the labelling of paid publications is mandatory. But currently this is a deceased right.

Linkages and content marketing jeopardise journalism

The Austrian Ethics Council also deplores the fact that the media are showing less and less diligence and, for example, are publishing articles without any criticality. Copied spelling mistakes prove this fact. In addition, the publishers also offer the agencies a wide range of coupling deals in all possible variations (printing cost subsidies, editorial support). This applies to both tabloid and quality media. Ultimately, this kind of content marketing leads to the elimination of good journalism.

The PR Ethics Council concludes that the fierce competition and cost pressure are contributing to this misguided development. In addition, short-term management thinking and digitisation would reinforce this development. In the future, the Ethics Council will pay special attention to online media in general and social media in particular. Faber-Wiener complains that the Ethics Council would like to see an open discourse on the undesirable developments in the PR sector, as this would not yet exist in contrast to Switzerland and Germany.



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