Risks for Public Relations Professionals in the Age of Social Media

Jan 2022

Public relations professionals analyze, develop, and implement communications and promotion strategies and information programs, publicize events and activities, and maintain media relations on behalf of businesses, governments, and other organizations. In general, they work for consulting firms, advertising agencies, corporations, associations, governments, nonprofits, museums, galleries, public interest organizations, and other organizations, or they may be self-employed. These agents include entertainment, literary, and sports agents.


According to IBISWorld, PR is a $867m industry. There were 2,208 public relations firms in Canada, employing a total of 4,919 PR professionals in 2020. (1)


A broker with industry knowledge can help PR consultants avoid unpleasant surprises resulting from unintentional errors, omissions, and other mistakes that may cause financial losses or even lead to a lawsuit.


Increased risk in the age of social media


Copyright in Canada lasts for up to 50 years after the year in which the subject matter was created. Works such as literary pieces or music have copyrights that last up to 50 years after the death of the author/artist.


In the age of social media, it’s surprisingly easy to violate copyright. Someone can sue a company for using someone else’s broadcasts, images, videos, or social posts – including a forty-character tweet – in their campaigns or website.


As such, PR consultants are careful about which media they use to represent their brands and reputations when they represent their clients in marketing and PR collateral and promotional events.


The top 7 most common exposures in PR


Copyright infringement and plagiarism are not the only things PR consultants must be aware of. PR agencies are responsible for many aspects of their clients’ corporate identity and public image, from brand management to media management to event management. It’s hard to stay on top of everything, which is why the risk of error is a big concern for these professionals. Moreover, PR consultants risk the reputation of their clients as well as their own, as clients expect compensation if the consultant makes a mistake.


A PR consultant’s professional exposures include the following:

● Insured negligence results in financial loss. For example, when a press release or marketing campaign is missed before a deadline, a product launch is delayed, preventing the client from taking advantage of the holiday shopping season.

● A client alleges that the consultant gave incorrect strategic advice or designed an inefficient communication strategy that resulted in financial loss.

● In business advice or investment advice, misinformation can be caused by a PR consultant’s improper fact verification and lack of careful research.

● Lack of careful research and fact-checking by a PR agency leads to errors in the content it produces.

● A PR consultant employee sells confidential information to other firms, such as information about a client or research data.

● False statements, defamation, or negligent misrepresentation by the client.

● Breach of confidentiality and invasion of privacy.

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Content is current as of the date of broadcast and is subject to change without notice.



1. https://www.ibisworld.com/canada/market-research-reports/public-relations-firms-industry/