OPINION: Seven deadly sins for the modern age

A Vatican priest recently recast the seven deadly sins for the modern age, adding offences such as environmental pollution to the more traditional litany of lust, sloth and so on.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

Since Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti's new list was initially promulgated through the pages of The Vatican's official newspaper, sparking global media coverage, it might be assumed that its conception owed as much to PR as to divine inspiration.

Hopefully, it will not cause mortal offence for the PR world to take the chance to follow a spiritual lead and muse on the seven deadliest sins that could tempt us daily. Limiting it to seven is a problem, but I offer the following for contemplation.

Email abuse - includes hitting the reply rather than the forward key when making abusively frank comments about the sender's communication; sending mass emails and leaving every recipient's address visible while creating the impression of a bespoke communication; lying about the technical problems that caused the system to collapse rather than admitting you just couldn't think of a reply.

Client reports - in which an endless list of excuses and misfortunes masquerade as action. Their page numbers can run to double figures, yet the report comprises nothing more positive in the status column than a series of 'left voicemail', 'fashion assistant not available', 'third party on holiday' kinds of observations.

Sending masses of inappropriate product to celebrities' agents in the hope it will be passed on, used or worn by the celebrity and end up as a celebrity endorsed product shot in a newspaper or magazine.

Talking openly to 'friendly' journalists about the challenges facing a client, then only at the end of the conversation saying it was off the record. It won't be.

Producing crisis management statements for troubled clients as that trotted out by the shamed governor of New York, with his wife next to him in a vain bid to cling to office. 'I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family, my sense of right and wrong ...' intoned Eliot Spitzer, signing his career's death warrant.

Lying rather than spinning. Truth may be a many splendoured thing, the perception of which depends on which way the light is shone through the prism. But untruths bring disrepute to the practitioner, the client and the profession.

Believing your own hype and becoming the story.

Our profession can survive and even thrive on the occasions of avarice, envy or wrath, but the above and many others may just bring the walls crashing down. Happy Easter.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and was formerly a senior newspaper executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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