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PR Grouch: How not to lie in PR

4th November 2015


Lying is always a terrible idea. “Spinning” is not the same thing, and anyway, PR’s reputation for embellishing, embroidering and boasting, is well … exaggerated. You only have to follow the news to know that the most terrible liars are politicians. And when it comes to lying, they have plenty to teach us – about how NOT to do it that is.

So when you feel tempted to bend the truth, remember these lessons from politics:

  1. Never involve someone else in your lie. It could get very messy, and if your relationship breaks down … Bill Clinton can explain better than I can. Remember the words “I did not have sexual relations with that woman …”.
  2.  Don't blame your predecessor. Politicians always claim it is the last government’s fault, but a) that can’t always be true and b) blaming others doesn’t make anyone look good.
  3. Don’t even think about claiming false expenses.
  4. Ideally, always be good. But if you do get caught with your pants down, say sorry, do not try and worm your way out of it.
  5.  Always make sure you have your facts straight. Being persuasive when you haven’t got the right information may not end up in war, like it does in politics, but it can still lead to a nasty mess.
  6. If you’re in the wrong, do not force your accusers to apologize. Note how Mod’s comments on the Dadri incident haven’t gone down well.
  7. Do not fake a degree in Yale or a speaker’s slot at Harvard. Remember our dear HRD minister Smriti Irani and Misa Bharti. Things can’t be that bad surely?

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