Sean Spicer Press Briefing Inadvertently Provided Valuable PR Lessons
Public Relations or PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.
In other words, it is based on trust and providing honest and accurate information presented clearly, and of course, in a way that positions the organization in the most positive way possible in light of the facts.
PR as an industry faces a number of challenges.
Like any discipline, PR is misperceived by many people outside the industry.
Think of how finance and accounting people are still misperceived as bean counters or only concerned about the bottom line, as if all financial and accounting people are unable to see beyond a basic spreadsheet of numbers.
The same happens with PR. The term “spin doctor” comes to mind and how the average person thinks PR is about “pivoting” or twisting the truth.
Also like any discipline, PR has its share of bad actors, just like some CFO’s aren’t as ethical as others, some PR practitioners aren’t as truthful as others.
The industry needs to fight back when one of its own hurts the entire field of PR.
We had that happen when Sean Spicer, the new White House Press Secretary for President Donald Trump was less than truthful during his first press conference.
Now, let me be clear. Both sides of the political aisle are full of bull.
I don’t care if I offend the 70 percent of zealots out there who only listen to their side of issues. These people follow the entertainment channels MSNBC and FOX News. Yes, entertainment channels, NOT news outlets — because both are biased.
This is not a rant against Trump.
Far too many people weren’t objective in January 2009, or again in January 2017.
It’s actually amusing to watch the people who were complaining in 2009 about negative response to the president who now are the ones being negative about the president.
Talk about alternative facts.
But back to Sean Spicer.
When it comes to PR, the rules of the game are tell the truth while presenting your organization’s side of the story in as positive a light as possible. Don’t make up material.
And if you feel compelled to make up stuff, know that you’ll be found out. So don’t do it.
If you just can’t help yourself, try not to focus on something that’s pretty much irrelevant.
Most people don’t really care how many people attend an inauguration.
The people who voted for the winner still believe they were right regardless of the attendance at the inauguration. The people who didn’t vote for the election winner still believe they were right regardless of the size of the crowd.
But it’s bigger than that. PR is a noble profession. Communication to key target audiences or the lack thereof plays a major role in an organization’s success or failure.
Successful PR involves building mutually beneficial relationships with those key target audiences, which requires telling the truth while telling your side of the story in the most positive light.