Wednesday, June 06, 2007

No Spin PR

Richard Edelman was in town last week at the Mesh 07 conference and he made it loud and clear he vehemently hates the word “spin.” In fact, his agency is essentially a spin-free zone. In his blog this week he writes:

There is no place in PR for spin. To be deemed a spinmeister is the ultimate insult. We are in the business of presenting reality, both to clients’ stakeholders but also to the client. We advise, develop strategy and listen, so that we help to shape the reality.

He says PR is about storytelling, but clearly only storytelling the truth. If PR professionals are not up to the task of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth in everything we do, he said, it’s basically malpractice.

I agree with him wholeheartedly. We always tell the truth in our releases and as he puts it "shape the reality." So if we are telling a bullet-proof story, with no extra toppings, why do journalists pick apart our clients’ news and approach our releases with a certain degree of skepticism?

Let’s look at our truthful releases. Let’s take a typical product launch. Let’s say a new grocery product launch. Here’s how reality is shaped:

New product hits the shelves from ABC company**

Nutritionist positively comments on this great new product and advises Canadians the critical importance of this product. She is, of course, acting as a neutral commentator, but really has been paid an honorarium to say nice things about the grocery product.

A Canada-wide survey accompanies the product launch – Canadian release reveals consumers have always wanted a product like this. Survey questions have been designed to illicit the exact response to use in the media release. Outcome was pre-destined.

Grocery product President is quoted as saying that this product “is the first of its kind in Canada.” Well, it’s the first of its kind in new packaging. However, product is essentially a “me too.”

Product is scientifically proven to be better. Well, at least one of the ingredients is scientifically proven. Good enough for me.

Yup, you’re right Richard … no spinning going on around here … just shaped and molded to give the perfect reality effect.

** Based on actual releases distributed in Canada.

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