THINKPIECE: Forget being a spin doctor: open and honest communications is a pro’s most effective tool

Has your boss ever referred to you as the company ’spin-doctor?’ In my opinion, company executives who call their PR people spin-doctors are idiots. It just proves they don’t understand the business of public relations or the media.

Has your boss ever referred to you as the company ’spin-doctor?’ In my opinion, company executives who call their PR people spin-doctors are idiots. It just proves they don’t understand the business of public relations or the media.

Has your boss ever referred to you as the company ’spin-doctor?’ In

my opinion, company executives who call their PR people spin-doctors are

idiots. It just proves they don’t understand the business of public

relations or the media.



Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about getting back to basics in our PR

activities. Whether talking with the media or with my own team of pros,

I am convinced that all of us, including yours truly, need a swift kick

in the pants every now and again to remind us of how PR pros are really

supposed to operate.



Oftentimes we get so busy with our jobs that we let the little things

cloud one of the most basic principles of PR: tell the truth. Common

sense and hard-earned experience dictate that open and honest

communications is the most effective of our PR tools. But inadvertently,

a sticky situation will come our way that can bring out the worst in all

of us.



Even the best intentions can lead to temptation. Though we may not like

to think of ourselves as dodging, truth-stretching spin meisters, in our

efforts to protect our employer’s image, we sometimes fail - simply due

to poor judgement.



Working for Nissan, I am acutely familiar with the Japanese way of doing

PR - you are either quiet or very quiet. Japanese executives tend not to

talk openly about bad news, unless forced to do so by extraordinary

circumstances. And Nissan was no exception to the Japanese inclination

to avoid the press, not only in bad times but in good times as well.



My way of working with the media is an exact 180-degree turn from the

way the Japanese do things. It is called openness. You can’t be honest

and forthcoming only some of the time; it’s a full-time job. And believe

me, journalists know - at least, the good ones do - when you’re

stretching the truth.



I’m convinced that when you make yourself available to a reporter when

the corporation’s keister is on the line, they will be more open to

listening to your positive pitches down the road. It reminds me of what

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians once said, ’Good words do not last

long unless they amount to something.’



When you bring PR into the equation, you can pretty much predict how the

story will play. Whether it’s Motown, Capitol Hill or Wall Street, a

well-thought out strategy allows you to know the impact before you act,

and saves you grief down the road.



So what is the soul of PR, whether in bad times or good? I’ll say it

again: tell the truth. Don’t hide from the tough questions. And since

words are the shadows of deeds these days, I know when my company is

walking the walk, I really like talking the talk - no spinning

needed.



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