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/ Spin Doctor in Press Release Practice Pros and Cons

Spin Doctor in Press Release Practice Pros and Cons

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Good public relations (PR) is an essential aspect of creating customer loyalty. This can be done by building a good image and relationship with existing and potential customers.  

It is definitely not an easy job. That is why a PR person sometimes becomes a spin doctor. Until now, spin has been a subject of debate among practitioners. 

What is a Spin Doctor? 

The Oxford Dictionary defines spin as The act of trying to make someone believe a long story that is not true. So spinning itself is deliberately making something seem better than it is. 

Therefore, a spin doctor is a person who excels at creating propaganda, mobilizing the masses, and controlling both the public and the media. 

The concept of spinning has been around since the 1984 Reagan-Mondale presidential debates, when The New York Times used the term to describe the candidates' press secretaries.  

It is commonly used in politics, especially in the run-up to elections. The goal is to draw public attention to the endorsed candidates, create a positive image of them, and ultimately elect them. 

It is considered a great success if the spin doctor manages to change the way people perceive the candidates and make them switch to the supported candidates. 

In order to spin, the doctor must have a deep understanding of journalism. This includes:  

- Knowledge of the media or public figure that can strongly influence the audience,

- In-depth research on the competition,

- Ability to take advantage of the competition's weakness to hit them softly,

- Creating and executing plan B, C, etc. if plan A does not work, 

- Turning negative issues (if any) into positive ones. 

Besides politics, spinning has also been used in business. For example, greenwashing is used to make a product look more environmentally friendly than it is. 

Apart from that, the interviewer and the interviewee can also prepare the script before an interview in order to deliver the "right" questions and answers. The goal is to create a good image so that the public will think, feel, and decide the way they want.  

Spin Doctor: Pros and Cons 

A 2002 biography of PR pioneer Edward Bernays is called "The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations. No wonder many people think that spinning is an alternative in PR practice.

Because spinning aims to persuade people, it has been considered a PR practice. It is an effective way to create awareness and improve reputation during a crisis.   

Over time, however, this activity has acquired increasingly negative connotations as it tends to mislead people and distract them from the truth. To achieve their goals, spin doctors may use manipulative tricks to invent facts or even create hoaxes. 

This does not fit the Public Relations Society of America's (PRSA) definition of PR: "A strategic communications process that builds beneficial relationships between organizations and the public. Because spinning misleads the public, it hurts them when they learn the truth. 

PR itself is about persuading and influencing the public to achieve goals. This includes raising awareness, building stakeholder relationships and enhancing reputation.  

However, according to PRSA, the practice of public relations must be conducted with the following code of ethics: 

- Advocacy: serve and act as responsible advocates for those we represent.

- Honesty: Communicate the accurate truth.

- Expertise: Acquire and responsibly use specialized knowledge and experience.

- Independence: Provide objective advice.

- Loyalty: Be loyal to those we represent. 

- Fairness: Deal fairly with all stakeholders (clients, the public, employees, vendors and competitors).   

The spinning practice meets the advocacy, competence, and loyalty codes. But it does not match the others because the spin doctor uses manipulative tricks to control the public, making them disoriented and willing to do what the spin doctor wants.   

Conclusion 

A spin doctor is a person who is excellent at spinning the truth to make it look better than it is. The goal is to create a good public perception of those being represented. 

Although spinning has been considered as an alternative in PR practice. However, spinning does not conform to the PR code of ethics. It may look effective for short-term goals, but it will ruin long-term goals once it breaks trust.     

PR is a counterweight to spin. The good PR practitioners honestly communicate accurate information and do not deviate from it to fulfill hidden agendas. So spinning is not an acceptable method in PR practice. 


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