What is a spin doctor ?
Being referred to as a spin doctor is not a term you want to have attached to your name if you work in PR. A spin doctor is an unfortunate slang term that has been associated with PR professionals from practitioners using poor practice in their profession. They have received this nasty nickname through putting a “positive” spin on bad news. These individuals often use lies to build their credibility and reputation with their public.
WARNING: This video contains profanity.
Phone Booth is an American thriller about Stu Shepard a New York City publicist who has become a successful PR guru in his city through deceiving the public and spinning the truth. Stu is held hostage in a telephone booth by a sniper who punishes individuals who have been dishonest, giving them an opportunity to come clean. This movie stresses the importance of honesty.
How to avoid spin doctoring
As PR practitioners we try to predict, monitor, and try to avoid crisises that affect our clients reputations. The example from Phone Booth is an extreme circumstance and comparision, but the lesson remains the same. The key to a strong credible reputation is being truthful and transparent to your public even in bad situations.
It is important in PR to act in an ethical way to avoid the spin doctor label. We need to do exactly what are name says: build mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. We need to show our public that we are worth listening to and have their best interests at heart. If we try to build this relationship of trust through double-talk(language that appears to be meaningful but in fact is the mixture of sense and nonsense) then our publics will simply start ignoring what we have to say. Creating half-truths will only leave a bad taste in the public’s mouth and create more mistrust. Our job is to inform our clients and not sell them false hopes just to get a job. A lie can be exposed at anytime and once you are caught lying to your publics, sales and credibility will take a downward spiral.
When you find your sight getting a little foggy within your career take a step back and evaluate your personal ethics. Ask yourself if what your doing is right or wrong. If you are unsure or uneasy chances are it is an unethical choice to make. If you are still unsure check the Canadian Public Relations Society Code of Ethics.
If you haven’t already checked out the CPRS Code of Ethics you should.