January 26, 2017, by Sara Brady
Here’s a fact – not an alternative, but instead a nugget of information that is completely true. Professional public relations and communication practitioners who speak on behalf of and represent individuals, organizations and politicians perform their jobs with integrity.
That is not what the American public, or the world for that matter, have been seeing since a new administrative team arrived in the White House. It’s one thing to “spin” information during a political campaign when accountability is loose and candidates — not office holders — are fighting for votes. But after a campaign, when administrative staff are in place to work for the American people, the public expects those responsible for sharing information to be truthful – pure and simple.
Withholding information, providing a different or opposing opinion are not the same as being untruthful or dare I say it, lying. Those of us in this business, want to be known for being responsive and reliable. We may tangle with reporters over issues, but we can’t afford to be distrusted. The news media represent the public.
The dynamics between reporters and communicators is frequently heated and frustrating for both sides. That’s just the nature of the business. Reporters want information and we can’t or won’t give it, for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean we don’t respect each other and our professional responsibilities. Just because you don’t like what you’re being asked doesn’t mean the solution is to provide “alternative facts.” That’s called lying. Unacceptable. Shameful.
Like the news business, the most important quality in our profession is credibility. If that isn’t part of a communicator’s core values, he or she should find work in another field.
At the end of the press conference, the truth matters.