Privacy, Security and Ethics: Global Challenges Affecting Business Marketers

July 23, 2015


At the AGM meeting in Washington, DC this past year, we discussed numerous topics that will affect global marketers. One of keen interest was: Privacy, Security and Ethics in a Digital Age.

We learned that by the year 2022, we are expected to interact with more than 500 ‘smart’ objects every day. It has already started. From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, we seem to be engaging with technology, primarily through our personal mobile devices.

In some ways, we are not just talking about connected devices. We’re talking about connected individuals, and connected lives.

But with all the good that exists with innovation comes a concern or two. How do we protect our personal data? Our personal lives?  How does information that lives in a cloud stay in a cloud, without falling into the wrong hands?

As marketers and public relations specialists, this concern extends to our clients – the companies doing business in this digital age.  There are many questions. For example: How do companies break through the noise to tell their story – without oversaturating their key publics? How do corporations protect their brand, their reputation and their data from security breaches and privacy invasion if information is flowing freely? How do leaders ensure they’re following best practices but also engage in ethical behaviors?

The answers are not yet clear. What’s important is to start the conversation.

Over the past 20 years, the Internet has changed the way companies produce, consume and interact with all forms of content and information. This accessibility has led today’s PR expert to new challenges and responsibilities to use these resources appropriately. Will your client become the next the next Sony or Target Corporation? As a collector of customer information, who owns that data? How are you walking the fine line of customization and privacy to ensure you’re not being too invasive into your customers’ personal space? If we’re all using smart devices to stay connected, what happens when we run out of bandwidth to store information and operate our businesses?

At the conference, we learned the “Internet of Things (IoT)” is powering innovation and hyper-connectivity worldwide. We also learned that it’s important to stay continually informed about new advances, and to consider how these advances may affect our clients.

No one has all the answers. But the overriding guiding principle is to keep personal and business values in mind when evaluating today’s marketing tools. To ask the question: Is this the right thing to do?  A good conscience can keep you on the right path.

Jan Gusich

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