. The Transom .

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Guest Post - Tom Amberg

I asked Tom Amberg, president of Cushman/Amberg Communications, to write a short reaction to an event he recently attended. It follows...

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I had occasion the other night to attend a PR Leaders reception at the Freedom Museum of the Chicago Tribune. The small group of agency principles heard some remarks from Harris Diamond, the CEO of agency giant Weber Shandwick. In his remarks, Harris referred to himself as a "spin doctor," and noted that while some objected to the phrase, he had enough longevity in the industry to appreciate that at the core of it all, that's what we really are.

A few verbal objections from some in attendance led him to amplify on it. "We are advocates for our clients, and we're paid to tell their story," he said. Media are paid to be objective, he noted, but public relations professionals are paid to promote the interest of their clients, with the proviso that it must always be done honestly and in good faith.

It's hard to object to his reasoning. We are advocates. What we don't like is a phrase that sounds quite pejorative and implies that as "spin doctors" what we're really doing is twisting the truth. Every profession seems to have its' pejoratives -- lawyers are sharks or ambulance chasers, news people are hacks, doctors are quacks, etc. Sometimes a phrase hits a little too close for some. There are "spin doctors" in the bad sense in public relations, just as there are hacks in the news business. It's just a phrase. Let's move on.

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