How important is honesty in PR? As children, we were all taught that honesty was the best policy. But as we got older some doubt crept in.
A little white lie here or there never hurt anyone, is what we tell ourselves. Maybe your friend isn’t as good a singer as she thinks she is, but do we say anything? Probably not.
It’s completely different when it comes to PR. As ‘masters of spin’ we can be considered dishonest but in this work, honesty must always come first and here we discuss why.
Building strong client relationships
As a PR pro, your relationship with your clients is one of the most important in your work. Having a strong relationship with your clients can make your work easier and can mean better results. One way of ensuring a great relationship is honesty.
When you receive a client brief, if you don’t believe it’ll get the desired results then don’t be afraid to speak up and challenge it. PR pros should be open and honest with their clients. Speaking up against an idea that you don’t fully believe in will stop the client from wasting their time and effort.
Suggest an alternative that you think has some legs, or suggest a brainstorming session to get the creative juices going. It will also mean you will build a stronger relationship as the client will value your judgment and honesty.
Keeping journalists onside
As the middleman, PR pros are in the difficult position of keeping both clients and journalists happy. This can often be a tricky balancing act. Being honest with journalists is simple. If you are pitching a story to more than one publication, let them know. A simple email “X publication is also interested in the story” will mean you’re keeping lines of communication as open and honest as possible.
If you have organised an interview between your client spokesperson and a journalist, let the journalist know what the client will, won’t and shouldn’t talk about.
The journalist will appreciate the heads up as it allows them to tailor their questions accordingly. Journalists appreciate honesty and being open with them can ultimately help you with your story.
Maintaining an audience
We’ve all seen what can happen when a company lies to its audience. Customer loyalty rapidly decreases and an audience begins to turn against the brand.
As a PR pro, you are often the middleman between an audience and the brand. It’s your job to make sure the message your brand is sending is entirely truthful and doesn’t contain any misleading information.
Honesty is also incredibly important in times of PR crisis. This could be a time when it can be easy to tell a white lie if it means the reputation of your company remains intact. Don’t do this. Lies from brands nearly always get found out and a lie being discovered down the line will do more damage than being open and honest and dealing with the crisis head-on.
Designed for PR and Communications teams, MediaHQ is the all-in-one media contacts database and press release distribution software with the mission to connect your story with your audience. It was founded by entrepreneur Jack Murray in 2009.
Our cutting edge software is the best, fastest and most accurate way to find the right journalists, build media and pitch lists in seconds, send press releases and get results.
The comprehensive MediaHQ database lists the details of every journalist, and media outlet in the UK and Ireland and is full of time saving features.
More about Jack
Jack is a media innovator with over 20 years of experience at the most senior level in the Irish communications industry. He has worked in marketing, journalism, and media relations. He is a former political spokesperson and government advisor, as well as an award-winning corporate PR practitioner.