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Gini Dietrich

Spin Sucks…Even in Political Ads

By: Gini Dietrich | September 10, 2012 | 
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This is not a political post. Let me repeat: This is not a political post.

Before I begin, allow me to remind everyone the vision of this blog is to change the perception of the PR industry by highlighting both the good and the bad.

The bad, unfortunately, happens a lot in politics, so we can’t avoid talking about them. But we’re going to look at this from a bi-partisan perspective.

Especially right now. My goodness. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or if this year seems especially polarizing, but it’s kind of astounding to me how both sides are behaving.

The GOP

Last Thursday, the GOP released an ad featuring a disillusioned Obama supporter. In the ad, she expresses her disappointment and frustration with POTUS.

Which is all fine and dandy.

Except.

The “disillusioned Obama supporter” is actually a Republican National Committee staffer. She’s worked in Republican politics since before 2008, when Obama was elected. So it’s unlikely she ever voted for him, let alone became disillusioned after she did.

A RNC spokesperson told Talking Points Memo:

It’s a lighthearted ad to show how millions of Americans feel about President Obama — he’s not the person we thought he was and it’s time to break up with him. But let’s be clear, it is an ad.

Unfortunately, anyone watching the ad doesn’t know it features a RNC staffer pretending to be someone she’s not.

The DCCC

There is nowhere more rich with political baloney than the state of Illinois.

I mean, we have what? Four governors who have gone to prison?

A man running for Congress in the Champaign area (where the University of Illinois has its campus) is being blasted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for working with George Ryan (the third governor who went to prison…and is still there).

According to Capitol Fax, there are at least four misleading – or completely untrue – statements in the ad, including being “right in the middle” of Ryan’s corruption, even though he was right out of college when it all went down and wasn’t anything more than an entry-level staffer.

The Lessons

While I’d love to say the lesson is, “Don’t believe everything you see on TV,” I think there is more to do this.

The other side is always accused of lying and fudging the truth in order to get ahead, but it’s not just the side that you don’t believe in. Both sides are acting in poor taste, lying, cheating, and being completely and utterly dishonest.

A lot of us are content creators. Maybe we’re copywriters or technical writers or bloggers or authors. Whatever it is, we create content that helps our organizations gain credibility and build leadership in areas we haven’t been able to compete in the past.

We are responsible for gaining someone’s attention in the blink of an eye … and trying to keep it for more than 30 seconds. And that sometimes means being controversial or extraordinarily funny or having a gimmick that works.

But, under no circumstances, does that include lying or stretching the truth.

We can do better than this. Let’s show our politicans there is a way to win and be honest. It has to start somewhere, otherwise it continues to get worse and worse and our country becomes even more polarized.

Let’s do better than this.

After all, Spin Sucks.

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About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

89 comments
arikhanson
arikhanson

@kamichat @ginidietrich How long have you been waiting to use that headline, Gini? :)

Leon
Leon

G'Day Gini,

When I was about 15 years old, I became very interested in politics. One of our two major parties, the ALP--read Democrats in USA- was going through huge ructions that ultimately kept it out of office for about 20 years.

 

I complained to my father about the spin and even blatant lies that the politicians involved were telling. He replied, "Don't worry son. They're only politicians."

 

That happened over 50 years ago. The older I get ,the more I understand how smart my father was.

To quote one of your better known dramatists: "it comes with the territory."

 

Have fun, Best Wishes

Leon

Anthony_Rodriguez
Anthony_Rodriguez

I think the problem is the most egregious political ads we see on the TV/radio/internet come from PACs, and not the politicians. It seems their main goal is to deceive the general populous as much as possible to get them to be so disgusted with one candidate that they'll vote for the other.

 

You know the end of each ad when it says "X-Y-Z is responsible for the content of this advertisement...?" Well I'm sure they didn't actually develop the ad and instead hired some advertising/marketing/pr firm to produce their dirty work. I wish there were a way to find out who these firms were and call them out for developing these completely dishonest ads. We need to hold our industry more responsible for producing this garbage. 

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

This is a very difficult area. To one side, an ad interprets a policy and its results. To the other side, it's a lie. To one side it's a powerful argument. To the other side it's complete straw man. To one side it's an article of faith. To the other side it's a sign of ignorance.

 

Yeah, there are plenty of examples of cynical advertising and absolute lies on both sides. The only solution is a better informed electorate, and sadly, I see us (at least in the USA) moving in the opposite direction. 

 

Did you have start off the week this way, after such a stellar ending to last week? Gee whiz....

jeanniecw
jeanniecw

The really disappointing part is that it seems to WORK. Too many people are just not interested in learning the truths behind the situation, so they take the latest soundbite and take it as gospel. Speaking of that, I'd like to start the rumor here that I'm awesome. If I say it enough, it will be true, right? I'm awesome. Truth.

Sparksheet
Sparksheet

@ginidietrich Hey Gini, curious what you think of @dmscott's concept of "newsjacking" - is it spin or something else? http://t.co/JHO3Wi0G

wabbitoid
wabbitoid

Having run a few campaigns myself, I have to say that the "air war" has completely disintegrated to the point of being nothing but a real liability for everyone involved.  The key to any political campaign has always been efforts on the ground to organize and mobilize - and this nonsense only makes that harder.  What's interesting is that the lessons we learn on the ground in politics have a place in general marketing, especially for small biz.  But this crap?  Feh.

Big media has been rendered useless by terrible practices, IMHO.  I think that goes all around.  As long as it doesn't ruin social media, too, but that may be too late as well.

JuliaStewartPR
JuliaStewartPR

How profoundly disappointing, regardless of the "industry" it occurred in. How can anyone behind this kind of dishonesty be proud of their work? Call me old fashioned, I believe in hard work, honesty and creativity. Yes, communications (advertising, PR, politics, etc.) is a really tough field, but if you can't handle the heat then get out of the kitchen -- please, for the sake of the rest of us. Thanks, @ginidietrich 

Carmelo
Carmelo

We're always looking for an angle, an edge, a hook. It's like everyone (all us bloggers, writers, companies, politicians, speakers, etc.) are all on the same stage elbowing each other to get to the front of the stage to be seen and heard.

 

The pressure is immense. What do we say? What do we do? Do we dance, yell, do flips? How do we get people to see us? Attention is so hard to come by especially if we have a short term view. 

 

It's this sense of immediacy and speed that gets us in so much trouble. Hey, the other guy lied, I gotta come back with a better lie now! (so, here's another elbow to the face.) That's what turns so many of us off to politicians, corporations, heck, to marketing in general. What's the #@!#$!! rush?

 

Yeah, let's do better. Spin DOES suck.

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Hey Gini, you've just described politicians to a "T"... " Poor taste, lying, cheating, and being completely and utterly dishonest."

 

And that's not going to change - it just keeps getting worse because they have to keep their previous lies afloat...

 

Just sayin.

MichaelEHoward
MichaelEHoward

@meghan5580 @spinsucks I DO like it as it pertains to my Washing Machine! :-)

EugeneFarber
EugeneFarber

That's just plain dumb. They couldn't take a couple hours and find a real disillusioned person? I'm sure there's plenty out there. Why put yourself in a position to be called a liar? It's either stupidity or laziness. 

Latest blog post: About Me

rhastings1202
rhastings1202

@ginidietrich Well said, Ginny! Amazing that so much of this still goes on.

johnny2004
johnny2004

@ginidietrich Politics is the same all over the world.Your article applies "EXACTLY" to our recently-past National Elections. Shameful...

JoeAbusamra
JoeAbusamra

@ginidietrich Awesome! Thank you....

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

I'm hardly one to play apologist for any political candidate, but politics has always been a dirty, deceitful game that has only worsened over the years. There was a time when I considered a career in that world, but soon thought better of it. 

 

The result? Political discourse has been reduced to sound bites and vilifying those who hold alternate viewpoints to gross caricatures. It deeply saddens me that it's gotten so bad.  Sigh. 

Latest blog post: Why I Changed My Site Design

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

In Louisiana we know from crooked politics and yeah, spin sucks. Even though so-called fact checking sucks b/c even that is biased and slanted, twisting the lies, damn lies and statistics every which way. All we can do is try to be better about what we create - and smarter about what we read and watch and share. FWIW.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @Carmelo Wow. Where you at the Bears game yesterday, sitting behind @jeanniecw and me? We were having this exact conversation. It's like whoever has the biggest gimmick gets the air time (or stage time). And it's really ridiculous. What happened to people's critical thinking skills?

meghan5580
meghan5580

@MichaelEHoward haha yes that's true!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@rhastings1202 It kind of hurts me. It's so hard to not be disgusted by all of it

Carmelo
Carmelo

 @ginidietrich  @jeanniecw LOL... it was a great game for the Bears. I'm not going to divulge what ELSE I heard you talking about! ;-)

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

 @ginidietrich Yeppers, pretty ironic, isn't it?

 

I don't know what its going to take to fix things; but we certainly have a monumental amount of problems that need solving and I don't see either party solving anything. 

 

There's not much positive that can come out of the discord and arguing that's going on and this broken system will not be able to fix it.

 

Its a shame how far our country has fallen. 

 

But, the people will rise again... Its the people, not government, that will lead us into a brighter future.

 

Nuff said, I don't do politics :o

rhastings1202
rhastings1202

@ginidietrich so true. Incredible that so many don't fear the total loss of trust when they get caught. #mindboggling

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

 @ginidietrich Indeed. It's frustrating for those who legitimately want to have a dialogue on serious issues without being lumped into this pile or that. The system is deeply flawed because it ultimately plays to our baser natures, and that's not helping. 

Latest blog post: Why I Changed My Site Design

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