Case Study: Salesforce Cut Hundreds Of Employees
Summarize the issue,
How is Salesforce being social responsibility and ethics about the situation
and Propose a solution/additional ideas.
500 Words or more
Try to tie in the pdf file as references if possible
if you could divide into sub titles for each require section , that would be appreciate
The role of social media as a vital component in an effective public relations plan has expanded
strategic communication into digital space. Despite the rapid advancements of public relations
opportunities within social media such as the blogosphere, guidelines for a prudent entry into this
often personalized online territory are difficult to locate. This article extends beyond individual re-
lationships characteristic of public relations practitioner-blogger discourse and promotes a dialogic
approach to blogger outreach ethics. It ends with several recommendations for public relations
practitioners seeking to facilitate dialogic civility within their own blogger engagement efforts.
The role of social media as a vital component in an effective public relations plan has expanded
strategic communication into digital space. Contemporary research indicates a growing confi-
dence in consumer-generated media (CGM) as a viable means to complement traditional media
channels in public relations efforts (Smith, 2011; Wright & Hinson, 2008). Additionally, agency
and corporate professionals have espoused the benefits of online public relations strategies
(Barone, 2010; Balwani, 2011; Cotton, 2011). What was once constrained as a practice of
conforming news to media-gatekeeper agendas has transformed into a liberation of online
content capable of immediate publication, endorsement, and reposting.
By harnessing the power of social networking, public relations practitioners seek to join
communities of friends sharing information (Scott, 2010). Of these networks, the “blogosphere,”
an environment of “easily publishable, personal web sites that serve as sources of commentary,
opinion and uncensored, unfiltered sources of information on a variety of topics” (Edelman &
Intellissek, 2005, p. 4; Rubel, 2008), is of greatest interest to the public relations practitioner
due to its semblance of journalistic qualities offering detailed reporting and an inherent third-
party credibility (Ries & Ries, 2002). Estimated to be growing at more than 100,000 blogs
per day, the blogosphere provides innumerable opportunities for public relations practitioners
seeking independent communication channels.
Correspondence should be sent to Jeremy Langett, PhD, Communication Studies, Lynchburg College, 1501 Lakeside
Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24501. E-mail: Langett.firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the rapid advancements of public relations opportunities within social networks,
guidelines for a prudent entry into this often personalized online territory are difficult to locate.
While an abundance of anecdotal experiences of public relations social networking are offered
within popular literature, a source of ethics to guide this procedure is missing. Rather than
establishing and universalizing a standard code of ethics implemented for public relations
practitioners, the call for blogger engagement guidelines may be answered through a reflection
of the practice and its implications for a dialogic encounter. Paralleling the relationship-building
engagement program between public relations practitioner and blogger, this encounter is “fluc-
tuating, unpredictable, multi-vocal process in which uncertainty infuses encounters between
people and what they mean and become” (Wood, 2004, p. xvi). Extending beyond a simple
relational exchange of information characteristic of a modern understanding of practitioner-
blogger discourse, a dialogic approach to blogger outreach ethics may provide a rich template
for anticipating the challenges in cultivating engagement programs seeking to protect and
enhance the blogosphere.
TRADITIONAL COMMUNICATION ETHICS FOUNDATIONS
Communication ethics has informed a variety of contemporary communication professions
with theoretical applications ranging from Aristotle to John Rawls. Sandra Dickson (1988)
contends the “fast-paced technologically driven bottom-line industry” of journalism requires
“moral philosophy” guidelines discovered in neither excess nor defect (p. 35); a proposition later
refined by Cunningham (1999). According to Cunningham, the virtuous act is not something
“middling” but rather developed from “reason-based behavior that is right in itself” (p. 5).
Journalists are revered as “epistemically responsible” by envisioning what ought to be done
from a position of sound character (p. 10).
Kantian influences over communication practices facilitate the development of professional
codes such as the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Public Relations Society of
America (PRSA), institutions attending to universal laws that are valid for every rational practi-
tioner of the discipline. Practices such as the journalist’s declaration to “minimize harm” reflect
a categorical imperative—an intrinsic end that is good in itself; a good apart from its relation
to a further end (Yang, 2006, p. 112). A public relations practitioner abiding by the PRSA
code of ethics accepts the duties of advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty, and
fairness, all of which introduce a moral requirement to the practitioner (http://www.prsa.org).
Utilitarian approaches to communication ethics are understood through J. S. Mills’ evaluation
of moral systems in light of their ability to increase net pleasure in the human race (Bartley,
2006). Framed as a form of consequentialism, Mill’s system of evaluation consists of identifying
and pursuing the higher quality of pleasure for the greatest number of people (Saunders, 2010).
In this regard, the greater pleasure is that which appeals to the higher faculties, a postulate
identifiable in mass media activities such as agenda-setting and framing theories.
The expansive nature of communication channels moves beyond traditional media and into
social media as a viable avenue of information dissemination. Along with this expansion is
an ethical call for appropriate communicative action responsive to the rhetorical situation—
communicator, receiver, and message—in a digital environment. While classic ethical paradigms
may also be applied to new media, these unique tools maintain a capacity for additional ethical
questions investigating philosophical, generational, and computer-mediated considerations.
BLOGGER ENGAGEMENT ETHICS 81
SOCIAL MEDIA ETHICS FOUNDATIONS
Research into social and digital media ethics is rapidly growing to accommodate for the
popularity of online public relations practices. Recent scholarship addressing social media
ethics has grounded blogging within Habermas’s concept of the public sphere (Smith, 2011).
Habermas contends that the public sphere involves “every conversation in which private persons
come together to form a public” (Habermas, 1990, p. 92). According to Burkhart (2007),
public relations practitioners may leverage Habermas’s theory of the communicative act by
cultivating relationships with bloggers and serving organizational interests through four founda-
tional principles: intelligibility, truth, trustworthiness, and legitimacy (Burkhart, 2007, p. 249).
Smith (2011) elucidates the four principles by suggesting if communication between public
relations practitioner and blogger filters through each principle and achieves understanding, the
practitioner may then become part of the social community through dialogue.
The four principles may represent an additional code or guideline followed by public
relations practitioners as they embark on blogger outreach campaigns. Such a code would
be consistent with the Institute of Public Relations 2007 study indicating a preference of
public relations practitioners to rely on codes developed either in-house or from professional
organizations for decision making (Bowen, 2005, p. 2). However, Peck and Matchett (2010)
observe that not all public relations practitioners belong to institutions adhering to codes of
ethics and questioned the source of ethics training for non-members. In fact, ethics training
is identified as a major shortcoming for nearly 70% of those practitioners questioned in the
2007 study (Peck & Matchett). The deficit in public relations ethics training portends major
challenges for practitioners facing multiple strategic decisions for their organization or client.
According to Martinson (2004), the challenges are compounded when the public relations
profession is perceived as inherently unethical due to its advocacy of client interests, regardless
of truth. The Commission on Public Relations Education (2006) recommends that a “considera-
tion of ethics should pervade all content of public relations education” to combat this perception
(as cited in Peck & Matchett, 2010, p. 2). The 2006 report suggests the development of short
courses or mini-seminars to complement public relations curricula that may fail to provide
adequate ethics training. Peck and Matchett further the conversation to address public relations
practitioners’ ethical training deficits by developing and testing an online training module
drawing upon resources offered by the Center for Ethical Deliberation (p. 2). Results of initial
surveys of module users indicated difficulty in navigation, but overall improved ethical decision
making in the areas of disclosure of information, conflicts of interest, lying, and spinning
information for a client or organization (Peck & Matchett).
Additional ethics research of the digital era centers around the millennial generation or
Generation Y—individuals born after 1982 who have grown up with the Internet and first to
pioneer social media technology (Curtin, Gallicano, & Matthews, 2011). Curtin et al. investigate
the relationship between ethics and the organization-employee relationship to explore the
perpetuation of stereotypes existing among millennials. Findings include that millennials “value
transparency and clear ethical rules and expectations” and fare best with “those agencies that
both walk the walk and talk the talk in terms of social responsibility” (p. 2).
The ongoing research into social media ethics continues to build a sturdy reference point
for the codification of practices aligned to protect the value of a liberated public sphere and
its digitally accessible nature. Insights gathered from professional, education, and academic
studies are invaluable to raise awareness of the level and quality of ethics training and the
development of programs testing the decision making of contemporary and future public rela-
tions practitioners. Stemming from traditional communication ethics foundations, new media
public relations initiatives are supported from ethics perspectives ranging from deontological,
utilitarian, and virtue perspectives.
Each perspective maintains salient considerations for the multistream public relations prac-
titioner and equips the practice with guidelines and codes sought after by the new generation
of professionals who greatly value clarity of ethical expectations. However, clarity of ethical
expectations is a troubling demand for individuals working within the business of cultivat-
ing relationships. As the primary feature of public relations, specifically blogger relations,
relationship-building warrants a richer investigation from a dialogic perspective of communi-
cation ethics. Starting from a position of embedded agency within a particular organizational
narrative, the public relations practitioner becomes aware of the blogosphere as a landscape
of multiple voices sharing unique and biased stories, an environment unaccommodating to
clear-cut ethical codes and guidelines.
RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING AND ENGAGEMENT
Relationship-building within the field of public relations is a central theme pervasive throughout
the field’s scholarly and professional literature (Wright & Hinson, 2008; Waters, Tindall, &
Morton, 2010). From introductory public relations textbooks to international communication
discourse, relationship-building may be argued as the primary activity of all public relations
practitioners serving the interests of a client, organization, or other entity. Specifically in the
subset discipline of blogger relations, relationship-building is framed as the core function of a
public relations practitioner.
Public relations professionals highlight blogger engagement strategies from e-mail outreach
to active participation on the blog itself (Barone, 2010). Additional recommendations include
personalizing relationships with bloggers and cultivating trust (Balwani, 2011). In fact, Yoon
(2005) cites interpersonal relationships as responsible for the direction of organizational media
relations efforts. Despite the prevalence of a relationship focus within media and blogger rela-
tions literature, few public relations sources centralize interpersonal communication dynamics
as a necessary consideration when developing blogger engagement and outreach.
Prescriptive blogger engagement guidelines follow similar methods for a public relations
practitioner to develop a relationship with the blogger and the social network community.
First, practitioners are recommended to research and target blogs relevant to the news or
content seeking to be shared (Barone, 2010; Payton, 2010). Second, practitioners are directed
to familiarize themselves with the blog and its author, discovering themes, learning the style
and language of the blog, and understanding the mind of the blogger (Barone, 2010; Balwani,
2011; Cotton, 2011). Finally, practitioners are instructed to contact the blogger and present the
news or content seeking to be discussed on the blog (Balwani; Payton; Cotton).
In addition to the general guidelines, some sources of blogger outreach guidelines offer
supplemental instructions to ensure a “win/win” experience (Barone, 2010, p. 1). Barone
(2011) suggests utilizing social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter to strike
up a conversation with a blogger about his or her content. Balwani (2011) recommends guest
posting on a blog as well as gifting products, offering exclusive information, or incentivizing in
BLOGGER ENGAGEMENT ETHICS 83
some way to convince bloggers that your information is relevant for coverage. Cotton (2011)
echoes the idea of providing product samples to bloggers but reminds practitioners of the
importance of honesty and full disclosure at all times. Should samples be offered to bloggers,
Cotton requests that they acknowledge the gift on their blog for transparency. Weingart (2011)
reminds practitioners to adhere to any outreach guidelines established by the author on the
Recommendations to supplement the consensus-shaped blogger outreach strategy of target,
research, and contact, provide multiple points of ethics investigation ancillary to a proposed
dialogic theme. Given the increasingly social component of online public relations, a further
merging of professional and personal (public and private) space concerns philosophers such
as Hannah Arendt, who cautions against an unreflective consensus resulting from an undif-
ferentiated public and private life (1959). A prominent voice against undue confidence in
notions of progress, Arendt asks “is a given action the best decision in a particular historical
moment?” (Arendt, as cited in Arnett, 1980, p. 67). Yet as the social media space is necessary
for blogger engagement and outreach, Arendt’s question is contemplated within the context of
contemporarily established public relations practices. Interpretations of this question may shift
the orientation of blogger outreach ethics:
From: How might a public relations professional best enter into the private sphere of an
independent blogger and his or her network for coverage of organizational interests?
To: What reflections are necessary to achieve a dialogic civility between professional
practitioner and independent blogger to better the digital media environment?
This shift recasts public relations professionals as self/organizational-interested practitioners
into media environment practitioners focused on the protection of the independent blogosphere.
In doing so, the premise of the self as primary among public relations practitioners is supplanted
with a narrative structure that may enhance blog content and ultimately formulate a richer
media landscape. A closer inspection of the self as primary assumption may facilitate a greater
understanding of this move.