Oral Histories

Maril MacDonald

Interview Segments on Topic: PR and Technology/Change

Maril MacDonald Biography

Maril MacDonald is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Gagen MacDonald LLC.  She is a nationally recognized leader in communications and strategy execution.  Prior to Gagen MacDonald, she served as vice president, corporate communications, and was a member of the Executive Management Committee for International Truck and Engine Corporation (formerly Navistar), and with CEO John Horne, directed a successful cultural turnaround, bringing the company from the brink of bankruptcy to being named to the Wall Street Journal’s “Top 10 Performers” list and Business Week’s “Top 50 Companies”.

MacDonald is the current President of the Arthur W. Page Society an is a member of the Arthur W. Page Center Advisory Board.


INTERVIEWER: I want to switch gears for a minute and drill down a little bit on a couple of communications issues. Can you talk about social media and its impact on the ethics of the public relations industry?

MACDONALD: I don’t know how to answer that relative to its impact on ethics. I’ll come back to what I mentioned earlier; I think individuals have ethics and communities develop shared ethics and values. Where social media has really impacted that is of course it makes those values more transparent more quickly. I don’t’ know that it makes anybody more ethical or less ethical. I’m not sure. Somebody has probably done a study on this, I have not. I think that what’s difficult is that many ethical issues are complicated and that in social media when things are moving at 140 characters at light speed, it’s difficult to always get to the bottom of what ones thinking was, what really happened, what’s going on, to really understand things. I think there’s a lot that just gets spurted around that may or may not have anything to do with ethics. Now, the fact that people can move as quickly as they can probably does lead some people who might shave a little bit off here or there, to think twice about it, in that sense. There’s probably some truth to that but in the main I think it really comes back to that technology is not going to make us more ethical or less ethical. It’s what we value as a society and that as a society people really need to stand up for what’s right. You look at what happened in the whole financial world, a lot of that was valuing money over everything else, right? That’s not a media issue, that’s just a serious values issue.