Thursday, April 15, 2010


Do you know how you can tell if a Public Relations person is lying? He/she is talking.

That old joke is funny, of course, because it is true. Good PR people get paid ridiculously well because lying (they call it spinning - another lie) well, and in a way that seems as if it could possibly be true or, more likely, in a way that lets the public believe what it wants to believe, is not easy. Lying can only be done well by highly trained (and soulless) people. They, or their clients, lie early (this is called "getting out in front of the story") and they stick with it. And I think that is what separates them from you and me. When someone calls them on their lies, they know that they must lie again. See, they knew this would happen, so they saved some of their best lies for this stage of the campaign. They can double-down on their lies in front of who knows how many people and not buckle, snicker or even smile. They can coach their clients (famous people, corporations and politicians mostly) to do the same.

"You must apologize for having the affair. We'll call a press conference. Don't sleep the night before. You'll look terrible. Terribly sorry that is!"

"Okay. But I'm not sorry. She was hot. I'm sorry I got caught."

"I know that and the public knows that now too, but if we tell them enough times that you are sorry, they will start to believe it. Then, when some asshole says, 'Wait a minute, aren't you just sorry you got caught?' You'll say, 'I'm glad you asked me that. You see, I was going to come public with this anyway. I was ashamed to be doing this to my fans/the American people/my sponsors and my family. And now that everyone knows, I feel better and my family and I can begin to heal.' "

"Wow. That's great! Write that down so I don't forget."

"I already did. I just copied it out of one of my college textbooks."

There is a recent example of a celebrity who did "everything wrong" from a PR point of view. Tiger Woods. When his scandal broke, he disappeared. All the "experts" were on the news shows saying that Tiger must apologize and he must do it soon. He must get out in front of this, they said; every day that goes by without a statement from him, things get worse.

I'm going to guess that none of these people were personal friends of Tiger's so they didn't know if he actually was sorry. That didn't matter to them. There was a way to handle "disasters" like this and Tiger was not doing it. He has since apologized, of course, and it was widely panned as being insincere. And it probably was. But since he didn't seem to be following the advice of a PR person, I'm tempted to believe him.

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