All important: truth in PR


Public relations practitioners often find themselves defending their profession.

After all, isn’t PR “spin”? Isn’t it “damage control”, “manipulation” and “propaganda”?

No. No, it isn’t. Practised professionally, public relations is ethical, truthful, often serving  noble causes, sharing very important messages which can make the community a better place.

To illustrate this when discussing (slash-defending) PR, I often remind people of the many different sectors and organisations a PR person can work within.

For example – we find PR people working in road safety, in health promotion, for charities, for animal welfare groups and much more. I think this is a clear reminder that when organisations “want to do good”, having an expert communicator on board can help them achieve their goals.

I was impressed with an article I read today:  Three Ethical Lessons From PR Pros  – in particular, this extract (told as a story, always a great method) stood out to me:

Here’s What We Do

In this atmosphere it’s not unusual for ethical PR pros—who are in the vast majority—to feel uneasy about the way their profession is viewed by others. Typical is a story that PR pro/media relations guru Michael Smart tells. Recently Smart was on a flight to Washington, D.C., seated next to a “fascinating person,” a PhD in engineering who’s also a visiting professor at MIT, now on loan to the government.

During obligatory introductions, it was Smart’s turn to tell her what he does for a living. “I’m a public relations consultant,” he said.

Her response: “Public relations . . . and truth,” she held up her hands as if they were two ends of an old-fashioned scale. “Can they go together?”

Michael’s excellent answer, “Truth is the only public relations that endures.” She loved the answer.

The trouble is the incident made Smart lament that his response should be considered outstanding. Aren’t all PR professionals truthful?

The quote:  “Truth is the only public relations that endures” is something worth remembering, for every communications pro.

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