From the archives
By Alan Graner
The whole idea of public relations is building credibility.
You build credibility for your clients through articles, white papers, blogs, web content, speeches, panel discussions, interviews.
You build credibility with the public, reporters, analysts, bloggers.
You use client testimonials and case studies to prove the truth of your client’s claims.
Yet it takes only one foolish action to destroy all your efforts, to destroy your client’s credibility…and your own.
That irresponsible action can be reduced to one word.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me
Lie once to a reporter, an analyst, a columnist, a blogger and they will never trust you again.
Lie to the public and they may—may!—trust you again. But don’t count on it.
Of course, lying doesn’t include the misstatement, the misinformed utterance, the brain fart.
Lying doesn’t include an accepted amount of puffery. (What, you’re going to claim your product or service is lousy?)
No, lying is meant to deceive.
It’s offering a mail-in rebate and not issuing a check because the rebate package “wasn’t complete.” It’s promising a low interest rate without mentioning the rate is good for a limited time only before it skyrockets. It’s claiming you offer outstanding customer service and providing phony testimonials to back you up.
Once you’re caught in a deliberate lie, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can never put your reputation back together again.
“The truth doesn’t cost anything, but a lie could cost you everything.”
Is it ever permissible for a PR person to lie?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.