PR has a duty to tell the truth. Not.

Martin Moore covers an debate in London. Resolved: PR has a duty to tell the truth. Voting for that proposition: 124. Voting against: 138. The motion fails.

That is, of course, if they’re all telling the truth about this.

Well, we shouldn’t be too surprised. But we should be disappointed in our fellow man. To put it bluntly: This is a surprisingly candid admission that TV is the lying profession.

Now there’s an argument that the PR person has a duty to the client, not the truth.

But that then raises the question — as other events have lately — of whether a PR person can be transparent and, indeed, credible. This would seem to say no.

Yet I also believe that in the age of links, PR takes on a new duty. I want to link to a company’s (or a politician’s or a government’s) site and find its company line and the facts and figures it has. We can all now link directly to such source material and we expect it to be credible; we are not discounting the truth because it came through a flack. The responsibility is quasi-journalistic: it’s about filling in facts and positions.

But if we can’t ever trust you and know whether you are telling the truth — if you don’t see that as a duty — then why bother with the site? (via Martin Stabe)

  • duneview

    TV may indeed be the “lying profession”, but there were no candid admissions of such, surprising or otherwise from anything you linked to in this post. In fact, TV was never even mentioned.

    PR, on the other hand…

  • http://www.pivotalrelations.com/blog Kevin Davis

    TV isn’t necessarily the realm of PR…

    Truth is a very vague term… and without contextual defining for such a poll… especially given the small sample size… no conclusion can really be attained.

    Are you telling the truth by creating a campaign that highlights the amazing focus of customer care and philanthropic nature of a client… and leaving out pending lawsuits by upset clients, former employees and product defects?

    Does the utilization of spin and propaganda like strategies, ‘fake blogs’ and other common employed tools of the trade mean that you’re being unethical, lying or dishonest?

    To standardize ethics and honesty and apply them to an industry requires quite an indepth development of a bright line for what is ok and not… and then the assumption that it will be followed by more than a minority of practitioners.

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  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    One would hope that news reporting and PR are not the same thing. That they have become so in many cases is one of the reasons that the “MSM” is held in such low esteem.

    See the two current series on PBS for how they got into this position – Frontline and AIM.

    On the other hand for much of its history newspapers were regularly associated with propaganda – as in that’s the Tory paper or the Communist paper, etc. The idea that news would be “objective” is a pretty recent development and has been discussed frequently since Watergate.

  • http://www.laurencehaughton.com laurence haughton

    I don’t know about defining “truth” but deceive seems pretty straightforward.
    “To lead into error; to cause [others] to believe what is false, or disbelieve what is true; to mislead; to cheat; to delude.”

    Maybe it would be better to say “Resolved: PR has a duty not to deceive.”

  • http://www.dilloncommunications.com/blog Chris

    PR has never been about “telling the truth.”

    It’s about putting the client’s case forward in the most compelling, convincing manner possible, without damaging the client’s business or reputation.

    Lies, fake blogs and astroturf campaigns — to give just a few examples — ultimately do damage because they cannot withstand scrutiny.

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  • http://www.alemex.net hasan alper

    PR has never been about “telling the truth.”

    It’s about putting the client’s case forward in the most compelling, convincing manner possible, without damaging the client’s business or reputation.

    Lies, fake blogs and astroturf campaigns — to give just a few examples — ultimately do damage because they cannot withstand scrutiny.

    alemex

  • http://www.selbourne.com Selbourne Designing

    True … PR is not accurate, but its their own way of spicing up things and we lapping & hyping it up.

  • http://trustcollective.com/ public relations branding

    I mean if pr professionals are looking out for the interest of their client, it is obviously bias

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