Transparency in Public Relations

Transparency can be viewed as a relational condition or variable that is necessary for some other relational elements. We can talk here about trust, cooperation, collaboration and accountability, all of them being important elements that a company needs to achieve among its stakeholders and employees. They are components of positive organization. For example, transparency helps the developing of a level of trust that is mandatory for an organization that has just passed a crisis and needs to rebuild its image.

In PR it is necessary to be transparent when you want to start the decision-making process and ensure there is a person liable for the consequences, to foresee issues and avoid a crisis. In order to make a decision you need to be aware of the current situation, to communicate and to have sufficient information. Making the decision transparent helps the public to view what is going on inside the organisation and decide whether or not it does what it promised to be doing. Transparency therefore forces the organization to make ethical decisions, to consider value in relation to its operations and its supply chain.

Transparency can be defined as a relational characteristic as well as with regard to environmental conditions and organizational processes. Florini (1998, p.50) states that transparency represents the opposite of secrecy in that the internal processes are purposefully exposed to the external world. Internal transparency increases as public relations practitioners collaborate and facilitate the work in teams. Transparency is more than simply releasing information to the public domain. It also represents an environmental condition that exists and with whom the organization operates. Due to these facts, we can say that transparency has a strong impact on both internal and external processes.

The outcome of transparency is predictability, trust and credibility. These benefits therefore represent a new moral and ethical standard. Transparency should be forced worldwide, regardless to culture or political interest. It will only enhance the reputation of the organization by making it trustworthy, easier to communicate with the key public and having lower risk premiums.

I believe transparency is a choice and it depends on the situation. Lying is part of human behaviour and all the public relations practitioners are predisposed to act not so ethical. Sometimes you really have no other option, and the human way of acting doesn’t go away with a commitment to transparency.  PR specialists deal with issues of fact and truth almost every day.  Transparency is an ideal, but will never be one hundred per cent achievable.


Public Relations. Critical Debates and Contemporary Practice; Jacquie L’Etang, Magda Pieczka


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