Right there with “flack” on the list of derogatory terms for publicists and PR professionals are “spin doctor” and “spinmeister.” Nationally regarded PR guy Robert Dilenschneider took this on in a June 1, 1998, op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal headlined “Spin Doctors Practice Public Relations Quackery.”
“Spin is to public relations what pornography is to art,” Dilenschneider wrote. “I find it offensive and destructive to my profession. That’s why I feel so strongly that it should be repudiated and stamped out.
“Spin is antithetical to legitimate public relations,” he wrote, “which aims to enhance the image of companies and individuals and to generate public approval for the programs and policies they advance.
“Ethical public relations is essentially a positive effort to communicate key messages to the public truthfully. Through research, hard work, creativity and strong, credible relationships with the media, a sustained public relations program can build a positive public image for a client, and it can help limit damage caused by accidents or misadventure.”
Dilenschneider urged companies who made a mistake, exhibited poor judgment or behaved badly to expose all of the negative facts as quickly as possible.
“Most often,” he wrote, “this is the only way to put a bad situation behind you so that you can carry forward a positive agenda. Outline a program of steps to ensure that a mistake, poor judgment or bad behavior will not happen again. This changes the story from misdeeds to reform and rehabilitation.
“It’s a cliché, but one that politicians and spin doctors too often forget: Honesty is the best policy.”