Monday, December 1, 2014

Spin Doctor Warnings and Key Learnings from November’s PRSA Chicago Event

Last month I attended the last PRSA Chicago program of 2014 – “Spin Sucks: Creating Compelling Content for Google and Humans in 2015” presented by Gini Dietrich. Many of us PR pros look to Gini for her humorous and on-point insights on Twitter and her blog – Spin Sucks – but it was nice to get an in-person perspective from her November presentation.

Basically, Gini wants us to know that no matter what “other people” are doing in the PR industry, it’s important to stay strong with our counsel and remember ethics. She touched on three different areas where it could be easy to jump in the name of results: 
  • Whisper Campaigns. This is the “anonymous” practice of starting a rumor with malice in mind. One way to stay straight? If it’s not true, don’t say it. 
  • Astroturfing. Otherwise known as pure fakery, there have been instances of companies creating fake accounts to “review” issues and products and even fake letters to the editor. Not only is this unethical, it’s illegal.
  • Media Manipulation. Gini shared that PR pros now outnumber journalists 4:1 – so we have an obligation to help the media as much as we can. Reporters often are in the race of “get to it first” so it’s our job to give them the truest facts up front so there’s no confusion or backlash that can come from it.
I very much appreciated Gini sticking up for us do-gooders and issuing a plea to fellow PR practitioners to keep doing the right thing. It was nice to be reminded that PR strategy is a marathon – and that despite the viral videos and seeming overnight successes we see on social media, there is no one magic bullet that will ever equal long-term success.

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