Lesson 2: Digital Tools and Ethics

When an organization produces a digital public relations campaign, it as an assortment of tools at its disposal. Knowing how to ethically use these tools can make the difference between a successful campaign and one that ends in crisis. Tools that are regularly used in public relations campaigns include cookies, tracking software, personalized integrated marketing and big-databases. This lesson talks about each of these specifically, as well as some of the ethical traps that practitioners need to be aware of when creating their own campaigns.

Each of these tools is designed to give a practitioner insight into public behavior, opinions, interests and dislikes. Usually, this information is gathered through tracking software. Organizations can track and monitor consumer behavior by archiving items that are clicked on, added to a cart, or looked at when on their website. This information is stored on a person’s computer using “cookies” or invisible micro-bits of memory that are easily accessed and tracked by a company. If you have ever noticed a Facebook advertisement for the exact pair of shoes you just looked at on Amazon, you have seen the product of cookies. Companies can use cookies to tailor advertising content to your specific shopping or browsing history, therefore increasing the relevancy of the ad to your life.

Cookies are just one way that organizations can get valuable information about the public. Many organizations buy data-supplies from big-data warehouses which sell the results of their own tracking and analysis. Big-data warehouses will sell a company thousands of pieces of information about specific consumers or a general group of potential customers. Companies can pay for this service, which allows them to focus on tailoring campaigns rather than collecting data. If you have ever received an ad via email with your name in the heading, this is a sign the company purchased data about you from a big-data warehouse.

Next Page: Public Anxiety of Digital Campaigns