I just re-read an article written earlier this year called “’Spin’ is the enemy of PR pros”, written by Fraser P. Setiel, which ran in the February issue of O’Dwyer’s.
The article states, “The first task of any PR professional is to make sure the performance is solid, proper, and successful. If it isn’t, then it’s the responsibility of PR practitioners to work to fix the performance before publicizing how terrific everything is.” In other words, “your credibility — with clients, coworkers, and reporters — depends on truth, not on spin.”
Our industry is fraught with the perception that all we do is make up lies to benefit our clients. If our client is Tom Cruise and we want to make him seem less nutty, we invite Vanity Fair to stay with him and his family for a week to report on their normalcy. If our client is Terrell Owens, we spin the story of him taking too much pain medication as an “allergic reaction”.
Maybe in the lives of celebrities and professional athletes, publicists have to spin stories to counter act the egos and large personalities of our clients. But as PR professionals dealing with companies, associations, organizations, the government, and other entities that affect how we live our lives, it is our job to remain ethical and credible. Just as Setiel states, “in public relations, if you lie once (or even stretch the truth), you will never again be trusted.” And that’s a disservice to you, to your colleagues, to your peers, to the reporters with whom you work, and most of all, to your clients.