When I first decided that I wanted to pursue a career in public relations while in high school, by best friend turned to me and said, “Oh, so you want to lie to save someone else’s skin for a living?”
Shocked at his negative reaction, I replied, “No, of course not.”
My friend simply sighed and rolled his eyes. “Well that’s all PR is, you know – just lying to the public day-in and day-out to try to cover-up some company’s corrupt secrets.”
That’s certainly not the reputation the leaders of the PR field might want, but it’s hard to fault my friend for only knowing that unfortunate side of business. After all, the papers are filled on a daily basis with official spokespeople scrambling to offer a half-hearted explanation after their employer got caught doing something wrong or worse, getting caught in a lie when they tried to cover up some wrong-doing.
It’s too bad these “bad apples” didn’t read the recent Forbes article on crisis communications by Eric Starkman, the president of S&A, where he warned that, “When you use spin to minimize a crisis, the crisis almost always spins right out of control.”
I may only be starting my third week at S&A, but my experience thus far has proven that S&A practices what they preach. They encourage creativity and being able to communicate the truth in the most effective way possible. For S&A, PR should be challenging: when your client faces difficulties, it is your duty to maintain a credible voice.
Last week, Eric said to me, “Good PR is a thinking business.” This is the kind of PR I want to pursue and I am grateful that my first PR experience gets to be with a firm who upholds the ideals I respect.
More importantly, I cannot wait to revisit the issue with that friend of mine now that I have first-hand knowledge. Until then, maybe I’ll send him a copy of Eric’s article in Forbes.