No spin zone!


Brands are running out of juice,” that is according to Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi in his book, “Love marks.” Roberts believes that love is what is needed to rescue brands. He asks, “What builds loyalty that goes beyond reason? What makes a truly great love stand out?” Roberts suggests the following are the key ingredients to create love marks: mystery (great stories: past, present and future; taps into dreams, myths and icons; and inspiration), sensuality (sound, sight, smell, touch, and taste) and intimacy (commitment, empathy, and passion).

Last 25-26 September, the Public Relations Society of the Philippines had its 21st National Congress entitled, “PR as a love thing.” Public Relations (PR) does its share by ensuring that individuals, products and companies maintain strong emotional connections with their target stakeholders, with the intent of making these stakeholders understand, appreciate, and trust them.

All the communication and relationship-building initiatives that form part of any PR campaign are intended to ultimately make stakeholders love the brand. Regardless of the communication channels being used, PR nurtures on strategies that involve: creating good impression, courting stakeholder loyalty, and engaging the target public to experience the brand.

PRSP believes that when PR: appropriately hooks the stakeholders’ emotions and intellect through authentic and compelling story-telling; provides images that produce empathy, understanding, inspiration, and shared values; reaches them through channels that they frequently use and where they play around, discuss, converse, PR wins them over. When brands do all of these, more than respect, they earn love. And when audiences, stakeholders, and consumers love brands, PR produces shareable results that contribute to the achievement of business goals.

The Congress, ably chaired by PRSP’s Vice-President for External Affairs, Ron Jabal, also focused on authenticity. After all PR is managing reputations and not purely images which advertising is. With reputation, one can leverage this in crisis or as a positioning strategy to any campaign. Truly, good reputation builds trust.

Discussion was also held on the evolving definition of PR. In 2011/12, the Public Relations Society of America initiated a crowd sourcing campaign and public vote that produced the following definition: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Nowhere in that definition is the word spin. Spin is a “form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure.” While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, “spin” implies “disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.” Honest to goodness PR practitioners do not spin, for the cardinal rule in PR is never, ever lie.

The first State of the Industry survey in the country and in any industry was likewise presented. True to form, PRSP under its president, Bong Osorio, and the 187 strong members welcomed the results where professionalism, accountability, continuing education and adherence to a Code of Conduct were the most held virtues and values among its members. More highlights of the survey will be made in the next few days as PRSP moves to its Student PR Congress on 11 October and the 50th ANVIL on March 2015.

Can there be PR without spin? The answer there is yes for experienced public relations professional who recognized that personal credibility with the press and the public revolved around one thing and one thing only: telling the truth. Any practitioner of PR learns quickly that if you lie to the media once, they never believe you again. But of course, it is another thing when some media practitioners are the ones doing the operations.

Dr. David Gruder has offered examples of the arenas that require action in order to build or nurture “no spin zone”: “social networking spin: networkers abducting networkers (social media has paved the way for rapid deception on social networking mediums that is especially dangerous to teens and vulnerable adults. Assumed identities, adults posing as teens, bullying of every variety and identity theft are a few examples of the worst integrity breaches); media spin: media abducting the public (in the new world of content, anyone with a keyboard, a camera and an internet-connected device can become a publisher and can use the guise of “journalism” to present their results; “lazy journalism” pushes the dishonesty envelope as well: when one outlet reports a mistake and an avalanche of others simply follow the first, the public is victimized by so-called reporting that is misleading or false); political spin: politicians abducting citizens (broken rules. broken laws. dishonest representations result in disillusioned readers and voters paying the terrible cost); political groups (special interest groups) attempting to abduct voters (when a candidate’ sponsored polls produced vastly differing opinions of the campaign’s expected outcome, in an effort to overpower opponents in the final days of a “hairsbreadth” campaign); advertising spin: corporations and agencies abducting consumers (when a brand is re-aligned so as to show that it is not the cause of a health condition) and email spin: marketers abducting prospects (spamming that pretends to not be spam is a grave offender in the war against spin. These include false anti-spam compliance footers that declare recipient is receiving the email because they signed up. Worse, clicking on a “remove” link that’s actually disguised and designed to activate sharing, renting and selling of email).”


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