Transparency and Truth, Not Spin

JOUR 4460 Blog #3

By: Sarah Copeland

 

As a college student, meeting new people comes with rather repetitious small talk. The conversation that contains that one question everyone always asks: What’s your major?

My answer for the past two years has been public relations. The slightly surprising part is that a majority of people don’t know what PR is all about. Several encounters have ended with me trying to explain, to the best of my ability, all the things PR includes. Other people, about five actually, have interrupted my explanations to say something along the lines of, “oh, you mean the people who defend bad things by spinning the information” or “so you must be really good at lying and getting out of trouble.”

No.

First let me say that I was always a good kid. I followed the rules and I honestly don’t think I ever rebelled against my parents. There was one time I accidentally burned a hole in the carpet. I was playing around with a candle lighter and I was being stupid. But I was a kid and I made a mistake, it happens. I didn’t try and talk my way out of it. I didn’t make a big fuss or say someone else was to blame. I ended up telling my dad exactly what happened, apologized for it and said I would never use the lighter again for anything but lighting candles.  I was terrified that my dad would be super angry, but he wasn’t.

This is a good analogy for what PR should be like. If something goes wrong, be honest, apologize and clear the air. But, people don’t realize this. For the amount of people I’ve met who have known nothing about PR, there seem to be many clichés about what PR professionals do. The idea of studying a skill in order to lie and cheat your way out of trouble, along with some other things, is exactly what I hope PR isn’t and the complete opposite of what I’m being taught.

Two of my classes this semester, more than the others, are teaching me how to prepare for my future career in the best way possible. Crisis communication is one of the courses, PR communications is the other. Both teach respectable values: know what needs to be done to reach your goals, and, if something goes wrong, be honest and solve the problem to repair the damage.

My goal as a PR professional is to maintain respectable and long-lasting relationships. I am passionate about my career choice because I will have the ability to influence publics in a positive way through discussion and engagement, not lies and spin. If there is anything I’ve learned from my studies it’s that transparency and honesty are vital to maintaining a good reputation and loyal supporters.

I hope someday everyone will stop associating PR with spin and instead recognize PR as an honest industry. At least it should be.

References:

Barrett, S. (2014, October 24). How to persuade The New York Times that PR is not about spin. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://www.prweek.com/article/1318959/persuade-new-york-times-pr-not-spin

To Spin Or Not To Spin | PRWeb. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://service.prweb.com/resources/article/to-spin-or-not-to-spin-a-pr-and-social-media-question/

Wightman, J. (2011, April). 20 things PR is NOT. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/20_things_PR_is_NOT_12327.aspx

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Author: Sarah Copeland

I am a Strategic Communications student at the University of North Texas majoring in Public Relations with a minor in European History. I expect to graduate May 2017 and find a career in External Relations maybe focusing on Issues Management. I am also a proud member of my Alpha Delta Pi chapter where I hold the Intramural's officer position. I am also a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society as well as the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. When I am not attending classes, I work in retail. I am a former manager at Justice Just for Girls where I worked for over two years until my store closed. I am currently working for Gymboree as a Sales Lead manager. My work is enjoyable most when I am able to help customers and also when interesting conversations arise. In my free time I enjoy reading fiction novels, completing jigsaw puzzles, watching movies, playing practically any sport, and eating as much ice cream and and other desserts as possible.

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