Lake Effect Communications

Lake Effect Communications

Welcome to PR Fairy Tales

“PR Fairy Tales” is a place for posting examples of questionable statements that diminish those making and those accepting the explanations.

          

        Please submit your finds to tfigel@lake-effect.com, and, if you wish, add comments, including comments about the thoughts expressed below.

     The PR Dance

           The strength of a public relations campaign comes from the clever, logical truth of an organization.
            But, an unfortunate and limiting distortion has taken hold.  It is wasting the strength of many organizations, including news organizations.
            The lies are familiar to us.  Out in our business and personal lives, we hear “We should go to lunch”.  The crowded commuter train before us at the station many times has “an immediate follower.”  Voicemail messages tell us that “your call is very important to us.”  Airline flights are commonly “on time.”
            Unfortunately, the ability to lie has become prized.  It has even become a definition for work that ought to inform and celebrate, not deceive.
            Begin with the term “spin.”  Isn’t the word really “mendacity?”  “Lying?”
            Trouble?  A sudden executive departure?  A surprising decline in earnings?  Chicanery suddenly made visible?
            In the duet that ensues, with a hunted organization avoiding interested journalists, there are steps that have become reflexive.  They include, for example:
            “. . . left to pursue other interests.”
            “. . . was traveling and could not be reached.”
            “. . . expect no layoffs as a result of (the merger)”
            Usually, the journalist’s dance partner is a public relations spokesperson, sometimes identified, sometimes not. 
            Unfortunately, the barrier phrases recur because, as openly disingenuous as they are, they still bring many journalistic inquiries to a stop. 
            Even so, the willingness of public relations people to be less than honest, coupled with the willingness of journalism to be satisfied, causes great loss of value for both partners in the dance.
            Organizations that prize communications professionals for “spin” waste the power of substance and truth.  News organizations that accept mendacious answers erode value: readers and viewers drop away, soon followed by advertisers.

'There I was, typing a lie'

     Her courtroom testimony during the trial of former Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards gave the impression that, for a professional speechwriter, a job’s a job.
 
     In this case, as she told it during the session reported in the New York Times’ May 9, 2012 article, Wendy Button’s assignment was a delicate deflection of any suggestion that the candidate had done or known something at an improper time. 
 
     According to Ms. Button’s testimony, she learned about the existence of Mr. Edwards’ affair with Rielle Hunter in 2008. Ms. Buttons then learned that the affair had produced a child. Her work with Mr. Edwards expanded to explanation of affair and baby.
 
     The trial testimony included examples of the answers Ms. Buttons helped Mr. Edwards prepare for likely questions. At the end, with attention turning to the financial aspects of the affair and the campaign, Mr. Edwards and Ms. Buttons, says the article, decided on an answer about that matter. “There I was, typing a lie,” Ms. Buttons said in court. 
 
     Just another day at the office for one of today’s pros.

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