The upshot of this week’s PR Week crisis comms event should have PR practitioners breaking out in sweaty palms.
And why not? After all, it seems like common sense that journalists don’t like being lied to.
To emphasise the point – and with great foreboding – The Times home news editor Martin Barrow warned PROs: ‘If we know you’re lying, we will work extra hard to ensure we expose you and your company.’
In the steaming cauldron of PR sins, saying “no comment” suggests you have something to hide; trying to “spin” your communications is a way of dressing up something nasty as something nice and, finally, “lying” is just plain stupid.
Anyone with the job of speaking to the media on behalf of their organisation could do worse than take the advice put succinctly in Frank Jefkins’ book, Public Relations: “If PR is to be credible, it must avoid false image making…the media are prejudiced about PR to the extent of expecting false image polishing.”
If you’re lucky, the instances of having to break bad news to the wider world while journalists or bloggers bay for blood at your gates will be rare. And when it does happen, there are ways of tackling it – but lying isn’t one of them.