I guess we still need to say this

The woman sitting next to me on my flight to DC this week asked something about PR that momentarily startled me.

I was traveling to speak at a conference and do my Secrets of Media Relations Masters workshop (next one in NYC in Sept.)

We were doing the get-to-know-you questions before takeoff. She’s a fascinating individual – Ph.D. in engineering, visiting professor at MIT, longtime career as a professor, now on loan to the government with the mandate to help scientists and nerdy tech people translate their innovations to the marketplace. Very passionate and articulate spokesperson for STEM, especially for women and minorities.

Anyway, it was then her turn to ask me, “What do you do?” I have varying answers for that question – this time I went with, “I’m a public relations consultant.”

And she immediately responded with this question, which surprised me with its boldness:

“Public relations . . . and truth –“ she held up each hand as if weighing on a scale – “can they go together?”

Almost reflexively I said, “Truth is the only public relations that endures.”

Her eyes widened, she nodded her head, she paused as if that was profound to her. And then she said: “You should . . . you should publish that!”

So here I am ????.

But I assume your reaction is the same as mine – why is that statement significant? Isn’t it obvious?

Well, obviously not, if a successful leader found it novel. And she’s not the only one. Sometimes, because I’m surrounded by a cocoon of so many ethical PR pros, I’m overly optimistic about the reputation our field has among the public at large and among organizational leaders.

Shouldn’t do that. We need to consistently advocate for PR done the right way, that establishes enduring relationships, not one-time quick wins.

If you find yourself mixed up with people who encourage you otherwise, then it’s time to make a change. Not only will subterfuge and manipulation eat away at your soul, it flat out doesn’t work in the long term. People may never come and say, “I don’t trust you anymore.” But you’ll find your personal network shrinking. You’ll notice fewer invitations and outreach. And opportunities dry up.

As our plane leveled off and the wifi came on, I got back to work on my presentation deck and she started watching Wonder Woman. Before we deplaned, she wished me sincerely, “Good luck bringing the trust back to PR.”

Thank you for joining me in carry out her charge.

This article was originally published on June 28, 2018

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