First, PR is all about relationships.
I’ve been working in PR in one capacity or another for the last 10 years. I must admit, I’ve never really sat down and taken the time to articulate that thought but it’s something I’ve instinctively known for a long time. It’s about cultivating relationships with the public, the media, the stakeholders and the employees. It’s about listening to what the public has to say and then crafting your client’s message in a way that resonates with the public.
The second thing that stuck with me was our discussion of PR’s dirty little four-letter word: spin.
When I think spin, I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Chicago. Richard Gere, playing a lawyer, “spins” the facts to the media regarding his client, Renée Zellweger, who’s been accused of murder. There’s a very strong visual of him manipulating the media. It's worth a look:
To be sure, this scene shows the ugly side of spin.
However, people spin, day in and day out, without even realizing it. Let me give you a simple example:
Wife says, “Honey, can we go to restaurant XYZ for dinner?”
“I don’t know. The last time we went there I wasn’t too impressed”, says Husband.
“I went there last week with my sister. Did you know it’s under new ownership now? They have a new chef and they’ve improved their parking. Also, there was a coupon in the newspaper today and it’s all-you-can-eat rib night tonight”, says Wife.
“Okay, let’s give it a try”, says Husband.
Husband just got spun. Does he know he got spun? More importantly, does he care?
He wasn’t in possession of all the facts. Wife supplied him the information he didn’t have - as wives are known to do - so that he could make an informed decision. She didn’t lie nor did she manipulate or stretch the truth. She presented the facts.
PR is about persuasion and perception. It’s about swaying public opinion. It’s not about control, it’s about telling your client’s story.