NEW ETHICAL CHALLENGES IN THE STUDY AND PRACTICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

B. Kostić

Faculty of Technical Sciences (SERBIA)
This Paper deals with three types of problems that are placed before the public relations as an academic discipline and as practice.
The first set of problems stems from the fact that there is increased number and intensity of social conflicts in the modern world. In other words, despite the development of knowledge about the importance and viability of benevolent, interest-coordinated communication among organizations, social groups and individuals, the practice of modern communication testifies to the increased number, intensity and aggression of modern social conflicts.
Another group of problems is actualized during the frequent consequence of cataclysmic climate change. These developments open up a completely new segment of issues related to crisis communication in conditions of severe natural disasters that cause the suffering of a large number of civilians, destruction of facilities and disruption of the work and life process, often in unexpected and unusual ways. In such conditions, it is currently necessary to analyze how, on what levels, toward which targeted audiences, and with which technology can we establish optimal relations with the public, which will serve to support the efforts to reduce, prevent and rehabilitate the sufferings from natural disasters.
The third group of problems concerns the increased frequency of identification of the newly established "discipline" of "marketing public relations", with the classic public relations, whose basic principles are thus gradually relativized. In the context of the reality of the two previously mentioned groups of current challenges in the field of public relations, identification, and blurring the difference between "marketing" and "traditional" public relations, leads to acceptance of the practice of manipulative communication that can cause serious damage not only to practice but also to the scientific approach in study of public relations. The special significance of this issue is in higher education, in the context of the presence/absence of educational courses and topics which actualize or ignore these problems and challenges.