The big names in public relations whom I have met personally nod and smile when I say that public relations should be founded on revealing truth.
Sure, it sounds naive. Especially when I know it is true that the biggest clients in PR, at least here in the Philippines, present themselves to agencies as clients either during times of crisis or during times when they’re engaged in any kind of high stakes competition.
It is in these situations that the pressure to engage in deception is very high.
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People and organizations which did something wrong will naturally try to hide what they did. Those who are gunning for a juicy business deal will try to make themselves appear better than they really are or show that their competition is actually worse than they are.
The problem with deception comes when one gives in to the pressure of claiming innocence, superiority, or inferiority when there is little or absolutely no truth to such claims.
Great if the deception never gets found out, but in all likelihood, all lies and secrets will reveal themselves. It’s a Biblical truth and one you can count on as sure as the sun rises.
And what happens when one discovers that one is lied to? Does that build good will or inspire enmity?
At the heart of public relations, or any human relations for that matter, is good will and it is just impossible to build genuine, lasting relationships with anyone if it is based on deception.
Another thing I like saying a lot is that honesty is expensive and the truth is ten times more expensive.
Honesty is a precious gift and it is not something you waste on strangers or recent acquaintances who will not appreciate it. The proper thing with honesty is to reserve it for those who hold you in high esteem, for the rest, it is enough to be polite and gracious.
The truth is ten times more expensive and that is just my arbitrary estimation just to demonstrate the magnitude of its worth compared to honesty.
To tell the truth about something involves a lot of work for a lot of people. No one can possibly know everything about something at any given time.
If you doubt me, remember what I said the next time you are unsure about something and blurt a question about it out loud in your office or a room full of friends. LOL!
Finding out the truth and expressing the truth are arduous tasks, sometimes even for the simplest of things.
Take for example the blue/gold dress conundrum — the amount of man hours everyone spent online trying to find out the truth and coming up with the best way to explain boggles the mind!
But as much as the search for truth and the revelation of truth can sometimes lead to bloody warfare (both online and IRL), it can also give you peace of mind because it is a powerful ally.
A quote attributed to Augustine of Hippo says, “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
For Kezia, because you asked me about this.
6 Replies to “Truthful Messaging Is Always The Right Messaging”
A few years back, I worked for a boss who was a man of few words. When he opened his mouth to speak, I listened and on many occasions, what he had to say was factual, to-the-point and sometimes very profound.
Once he took me aside and told me:
“Don’t lie – especially to me!”
I said “Okay, I won’t!”
End of conversation…
As I was getting up to leave his office, he said
“It’s easier to remember the truth and you don’t have to make stuff up!”
Almost 30 years later I still remember that lesson! Simple but very true.
One wonders whether Edward Bernays inspired the trend to use falsehood in “public relations.”
And, this other article I wrote earlier about lying to become famous.
Article is a fantastic message by itself.
The problem here is : if the “Lion”…(truth) would come back to you and eat you…not where you would want it to go. Lions would eat the nearest available meal…they do not discriminate…
As always, we can always count on you to take a metaphor and bring it into uncharted territory where it will be subjected to torture.
In the Failippines, all you know is what you think you know, but that isn’t always what’s real.