Steven Le Vine
first-rate publicist can carefully craft and execute a proper PR campaign
that will both generate a substantial amount of press exposure, and also
help to portray his or her client in a positive light.
But, not all
publicists will do this without taking a few shortcuts on the way.
Sometimes shortcuts can be beneficial – a way to speed up a process that
would normally take a longer amount of time. Other times, not so much.
However, just as with any situation in life, ethics are always an
important, yet often sidelined topic. Sometimes this is due to a
simple oversight. While other times it’s done on purpose, so that one
can engage in unethical behavior in order to take a shortcut.
Here are five tips I have prepared on ways that one can run a smooth,
successful, and most importantly, ethical PR campaign.
1. Always Be Honest. There’s an old Russian proverb
that goes: “With lies you may get ahead in the world – but you can
never go back.” And that’s just as true when you’re sharing a story
with the public. If you present even just one lie in a story, it may
possibly help you in the short-term, but there is always a strong
chance it can come back to bite you. Not only can you ruin your own
credibility as a publicist, and make it hard or even impossible for a
media outlet to ever take you seriously again, but also if you’re a
notable personality or brand, the negative consequences can be
tremendous, as your reputation is always on a pedestal for the public
to judge. Although a crisis can always be a possibility when you’re in
the limelight, one never wants to help make it an actuality.
2. No Pay-For-Play. While it has been reported that
certain countries, such as China, for instance, only accept press
releases and stories if space within a publication is purchased, the
idea of public relations is that it is “earned media.” In other words,
stories are important enough that they are worthy of a publication’s
real estate, not bought. Paying for placement not only delegitimizes
an important story, but it is also antithetical to the whole idea of a
media outlet offering a third-party endorsement, one of the primary
goals of public relations.
3. Don’t Misrepresent Facts. Similar to not lying is
not distorting facts to suit one’s needs. Think about it. If you’re a
large corporation, should you tell your shareholders your company’s
stocks are only worth $5 per share, when they’re really worth $50?
Should a doctor tell his or her patient with cancer that most people
with their type of cancer live for two years, when in reality they
live for only three months? If you twist the facts, you run a major
risk in not only destroying your own and the media outlet’s
credibility, but you also deceive the public by providing them with
4. Don’t Throw Competition Under the Bus. It’s never
a smart idea to slander your competitors, especially in the public
arena. It’s one thing to present a valid reason to make a distinction
for the sake of comparison, but it’s an entirely different thing to
pull your competitor into a bullfight and wave a red cape in front of
them. For one, you open yourself up to their revengeful efforts at
any time. But more importantly, whenever one protests too much about
someone else, it never looks good for his or her own character. Just
as Queen Gertrude stated in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “The lady doth
protest too much, methinks.”
5. Don’t Offer Bribes for Coverage. Taking a reporter
or producer out to lunch is one thing. Offering them a trip to Cabo
San Lucas is another. Although you may really want that Wall Street
Journal real estate reporter to cover the launch event for your
client’s new residential project, it’s a bad idea. For one, it makes
you and your client look desperate, having a story not worthy of print
exposure. It also does a disservice to all parties. Moreover, how
would you like for the reporter to get fired for accepting your bribe
and then hold it against you when they move on to another position at
a different newspaper? Next time, think about sending them a box of
chocolates or a Starbucks gift card after they cover your story,
Vine is the founder of grapevine
full-service lifestyle and entertainment PR firm, based in Los Angeles.
He can be contacted directly at Steven.firstname.lastname@example.org
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