Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., President & CEO, Institute for Public Relations
Hilary Fussell Sisco, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Strategic Communication, Quinnipiac University

Pic2.jpg largeThis presentation was conducted at the 65th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) in San Juan, Puerto Rico in May of 2015. Dr. Tina McCorkindale and Dr. Hilary Fussell Sisco discussed how the ethic of care, or how building relationships in terms of being considerate and caring for others, is necessary for social media engagement.

Based on Stoker and Tusinski-Berg’s paper in 2006 that said dissemination can be “just” and dialogue can be “unjust,” McCorkindale and Sisco also argued that dialogic communication or engagement does not always have to be the end goal on social media. Instead, organizations must think about how their stakeholder needs – posting content for content’s sake or demanding a quid pro quo relationship – may not be ethical.

Based on the ethic of care approach, espoused by Coombs and Holladay (2013), organizations cannot choose to ignore a relationship because it is simply not important to an organization.  It was concluded that communicating on social media sites should be akin to having a conversation where the organization is both listening and conversing without ulterior motives. The paper was part of a panel, “Ethical Stakeholder Engagement: A Showcase of Projects from the Arthur W. Page Center,” moderated by Dr. Marcia DiStaso of the Arthur W. Page Center at Penn State University and Associate Research Editor of the Institute for Public Relations.

Download PDF: Ethical Divergence in Social Media


Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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