In preparation for my new book launch (about personal reputation management), I travel to Hong Kong next week for the city’s book festival, and to speak at the HK Overseas Correspondent’s club. There, and also at Edelman’s offices, I’ll be doing sessions on Reputation Management in the Internet Age (a topic that’s intriguing more than a few corporates and celebs these days). Unfortunately, Crisis PR expert Jonathan Bernstein – due to give his expert view on the thinly veiled Alan Didak, Hells Angels, Collingwood PR crisis snafu I outlined – has had suffered an unexpected difficulty, so he doesn’t have time to comment on that mini case study til later this month; you guys OK with that?
While I’ll try to blog on the road, it might be a tad fractured, but there'[s been some interesting things going on in the world of PR, most notably in the UK, where Prof Tim Chappell of the UK’s Open University, was speaking about PR, advocacy and truth. Here’s my take on what Tim was proposing:
The (PR) reason to be truthful may lie in the fact that if you’re not, you can lose credibility (and credibility and trust are a form of power in stakeholder relationships). Another reason to be truthful is that people hate being lied to, as many see lies as a real insult. To a large extent, there’s equally as much reason to ‘seem’ truthful, rather than purely being truthful.
In aiming for truth, we certainly have some latitude to ‘spin’ a story (to advocate in a specific way or direction). I.e. your interpretation of the truth may be as valid as another party’s take on the topic. Tim looked set to conclude that Advocacy (PR) is an art of persuasion, but good advocacy should always be constrained and directed by the truth. Truthfulness is a vital aspect of what any professional is ethically required to do and be.