You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘spinster’ tag.

As young pros in the communications industry, navigating sticky ethical dilemmas isn’t always easy.  Working on behalf of our companies/clients, PR pros generally function as the go-between when our bosses are looking to control what messages reach the public. It’s nothing new, but PR practitioners have both succeeded and failed at conveying messages the “right” way.

But as PR practitioners, what’s more important: Being loyal to our employers OR loyal to the public?

amandaskepface2

AMANDA:

I am by no means well-versed in the professional world, but as a cynical observer, here’s how I see it: If you’re writing the checks, you’re making the rules. This isn’t unique to public relations, of course, but it seems easier than in most industries to let personal opinions and beliefs affect our work. Clients aren’t paying you to agree with them; they are paying you for a service. We are the liaisons between these organizations and the public; we are simply the bullhorn, the channel the client uses to spread a message. We are being paid to communicate and gain positive attention on behalf of a client, not to decide whether the client is responsible or morally in the right – if you have really strong misgivings about a client’s behavior, you probably shouldn’t take the account.

Regardless of personal opinion, I am being employed to serve a client’s PR needs to the best of my ability. If I can’t do my job well – for personal objections or any other reason – I need to step away.

chrisfaceCHRIS:

I agree that it’s our job to represent the view points of our clients in the media. But it’s not our job to lie. Not only is the idea of “massaging the truth” one that can damage the entire PR industry, but I would argue that mis-representing the truth is never in the client’s best business interest. A company can only hide from the truth for so long, and in the digitally connect world we live, that timeline is growing shorter every day. My recommendation would be to take corrective action as a company so that the PR pro can portray the company accurately to the media. If you want a spin artist, try these guys.  No pun intended, Little Miss Amanda.

AMANDA:

I hate the term “spin doctor” as much as the next PR enthusiast, but either way, I’m not saying we should lie. Framing does not equal lying. When you are working on behalf of a client, you are being employed to present that client in the best light possible. Should you tell blatant lies to make the client look better? We all know the answer to that one. But are critics like John Stauber right to generalize and paint all PR pros as deceptive, conniving lie machines? Hell, no. Presenting your client in a more flattering light is not wrong.

We all do it – you don’t trumpet your own downfalls to others in order to maintain a positive image. Maintaining a client’s image is no different, and highlighting the positive while mitigating the negative is inherent in all of us to some degree. Some PR pros might engage in controversial practices, but that’s no different than any other profession. Not all accountants are dirty, not all cops are crooked and not all PR pros are liars.

CHRIS:

Ballon boy on CNN (or not).

I guess my point is that we need to look at all suggestions from upper management subjectively. Whether they’re asking you to “spin” a situation to make the company look favorable or requesting something else dishonest.  Let’s take the recent events of Balloon Boy as an example – or to clarify, the balloon boy hoax. Suppose you represented the Heene family and they approached you with the idea to pitch a deceptive storyline in order to gain national media exposure? Are you still going to play the role of “bull-horn” and let them use your professional talents unethically? I’m not.

And to me this goes beyond the obvious ethical ramifications. Looking forward, any business success garnered by the Heene family will be tainted with their inauthentic burst onto the national stage and will likely be short-lived (at least I hope our society is better than that).

AMANDA:

Hmm… well, I agree in the fact that we need to use discretion when deciding which PR tactics to implement on behalf of a client. Sometimes clients or management get excited over specific tactics that would actually provide little benefit to their end goals. As PR pros, we need to think critically about what strategies will ultimately be most effective and provide our counsel from there. Should we be puppets? Not what I’m saying. But we need to listen to a client’s objective and then serve it in the best way possible, regardless of our opinion. Do I believe Mr. Heene’s theories about aliens and an imminent Armageddon? Negative; like a lot of people, I think the guy’s got a couple screws loose. But if I agreed to represent his cause, it would be my responsibility to make strategic decisions that would best serve his interests.

CHRIS:

The joy I’m getting from role-playing as PR counsel for the Heene family could be considered slightly abnormal. But I’m gonna give our readers a chance to do the same. I think Amanda and I are in agreement on some things here (miraculously), but I’m wondering where to draw the line? Is it based on personal pride or ethics? If you represented the Heene’s what would you have suggested? Let us know what you think.

As young pros in the communications industry, navigating sticky ethical dilemmas isn’t always easy.  Working on behalf of our companies/clients, PR pros frequently function as the go-between when our bosses are looking to control messages in the media. It’s nothing new, but in the relatively breif history of our profession, PR practitioners have both succeeded (http://www.icmrindia.org/casestudies/catalogue/Business%20Ethics/BECG015.htm) and failed (http://www.prwatch.org/books/tsigfy.html) to get the right message out.

But as PR practitioners, what’s more important: Being loyal to our employers or loyal to the public?

AMANDA: I’m not wise to the PR world by any means, but as a cynical observer, here’s how I see it: If you’re writing the checks, you’re making the rules. This isn’t unique to public relations, of course, but it seems easier than in most industries to let personal opinions and beliefs affect our work. Clients aren’t paying you to agree with them; they are paying you for a service. We are the liaisons between these organizations and the public; we are simply the bullhorn, the medium the client uses to spread a message. We are being paid to communicate and gain positive attention on behalf of a client, not to decide whether the client is responsible or morally in the right – if you have really strong misgivings about a client’s behavior, you probably shouldn’t take the account.

Regardless of personal opinion, I am being employed to serve a client’s PR needs to the best of my ability. If I can’t do my job well – for personal objections or any other reason – I need to step away.

CHRIS: I agree that it’s our job to represent the view points of our clients in the media. But it’s not our job to lie. Not only is the idea of “massaging the truth” one that can damage the entire PR industry, but I would argue that mis-representing the truth is never in the client’s best business interest. A company can only hide from the truth for so long, and in the digitally connect world we live, that timeline is growing shorter every day. My recommendation would be to take corrective action as a company so that the PR pro can portray the company accurately to the media. If you want a spin artist, try these guys. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=givZsEAW80k) No pun intended, Little Miss Amanda.

AMANDA: I hate the term “spin doctor” as much as the next PR enthusiast, but either way, I’m not saying we should lie. Framing, as I prefer to think of it, does not equal lying. When you are working on behalf of a client, you are being employed to present that client in the best light possible. Should you tell blatant lies to make the client look better? We all know the answer to that one. But are critics like John Stauber right to generalize all PR pros as deceptive, conniving lie machines (http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0901-05.htm) ? Hell, no. Highlighting the positive and mitigating the negative about your client is not wrong. We all do it – you don’t trumpet your own downfalls to others in order to maintain a positive image. Maintaining a client’s image is no different, and highlighting the positive while mitigating the negative is inherent in all of us to some degree. Some PR pros might engage in controversial practices, but that’s no different than any other profession. Not all accountants are dirty, not all cops are crooked and not all PR pros are liars.

CHRIS: I guess my point is that we need to look at all suggestions from upper management subjectively.  Let’s take the recent events of Balloon Boy as an example – or to clarify, the balloon boy hoax (http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/18/colorado.balloon.investigation/index.html) Suppose you represented the Heene family and they approached you with the idea to pitch a deceptive storyline in order to gain national media exposure? Are you still going to play the role of “bull-horn” and let them use your talents as a professional merely as a tool? I’m not.

And to me this goes beyond the obvious ethical ramifications. Looking forward, any business success garnered by the Heene family will be tainted with their inauthentic burst onto the national stage and will likely be short-lived (at least I hope our society is better than that). http://gawker.com/5384375/deflated-balloon-boys-the-story-of-our-ugly-sorry-era

AMANDA: Hmm… well, I agree in the fact that you need to use discretion when deciding on what PR tactics to implement on behalf of a client. Sometimes clients or management get excited over specific tactics that would actually provide little benefit to their end goals. As PR pros, we need to think critically about what strategies will ultimately be most effective and provide our counsel from there. Should we be puppets? Not what I’m saying. But we need to listen to a client’s objective and then serve it in the best way possible, regardless of our opinion. Do I believe Mr. Heene’s theories about aliens and an imminent Armageddon (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/pals_airing_balloon_dad_criminal_A1rvE19eLczSLW47nwTHHK) ? Heck no; like a lot of people, I think the guy’s got a couple screws loose. But if I agreed to represent his cause, it would be my responsibility to make strategic decisions that would best serve his interests.

Advertisements

Contact

Follow Chris on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Follow Amanda on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.