Truth is an early casualty in any dispute. Presidential campaigns are the worst. Half-truths are bad enough, but even they quickly give way to cavalier distortions and outright lies.
People’s memories are notoriously short. Even when events and statements are remembered, they are softened and reinterpreted by time and beliefs. Historically, this has allowed opposing sides in any dispute — political, business, personal, other — to take liberties with the truth.
The Internet makes this more difficult. Sure, it’s a double-edged sword. It allows opposition researchers to more easily dig up dirt about and inappropriate statements by opponents. But it’s also a trove for fact-checkers to expose those who misrepresent the truth. Politicians of all parties do. So do litigants and companies and nations and NGOs.
A recent example was especially egregious. A televised political ad was so distorted it turned the truth on its head. The political party that made the ad explained, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Put another way: Doesn’t matter if it’s true. If we say it long and loud enough, it will be believed.
A frightening concept. Also dangerous. While it may get lost amid all the noise and partisanship of a national political campaign, it’s more likely to backfire and destroy a single company. What you say — and the forum and tone in which you say it — affects your company’s credibility and viability. That’s why your underlying messages to all audiences must be strong, clear and consistent.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.