The Facts About ‘Alternative Facts’

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The foundation of good public relations is facts. Facts do not bend, they do not break, and above all else, they are not fiction.

Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager and current counselor to President Donald Trump, recently referred to comments made by press secretary Sean Spicer as “alternative facts.” Spicer denounced news accounts that attendance of the presidential inauguration was underestimated. In a proactive move, PRSA National has taken a firm stance through a statement cementing its opposition to the idea of “alternative facts.”

True public relations practitioners pride themselves on their commitment to the PRSA Code of Ethics and their ability to get the job done without spinning a story. A challenge of good public relations is advancing the industry as a whole when the decisions of some negatively reflect on all of us.

Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSA chair, issued the following statement Tuesday:

“Truth is the foundation of all effective communications. By being truthful, we build and maintain trust with the media and our customers, clients and employees. As professional communicators, we take very seriously our responsibility to communicate with honesty and accuracy.

The Public Relations Society of America, the nation’s largest communications association, sets the standard of ethical behavior for our 22,000 members through our Code of Ethics. Encouraging and perpetuating the use of alternative facts by a high-profile spokesperson reflects poorly on all communications professionals.

PRSA strongly objects to any effort to deliberately misrepresent information. Honest, ethical professionals never spin, mislead or alter facts. We applaud our colleagues and professional journalists who work hard to find and report the truth.”

As public relations practitioners, it’s important to understand the importance of being honest as well as the implications of being dishonest. As the future professionals of the industry, it is on our shoulders to act with integrity and practice good ethical decision making in all that we do.

Andrew Young is a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) where he serves as the president of the MTSU PRSSA Chapter. He is also a member of the Advocacy Subcommittee for PRSSA National.

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