Too often publicists and professionals in the public relations industry are falsely labeled as “spin doctors,” people who will change or put their best “spin,” on a story. There are also those who say that that a publicist or PR agency has a duty to their client, and not necessarily to telling the truth. However, as I have repeatedly stated in other posts the public simply is not buying it anymore. As audiences are becoming increasingly Internet savvy the age where companies and celebrities could get away with twisting or completely covering the truth is ending.
There are many examples in the past few years where the fabrications after a scandal generated even more fallout than the initial problem. A good example of this is former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Cain was a promising Tea Party politician who threw his hat into the ring for the Republican party nomination. However, shortly after announcing his intention to run for the nomination, a woman came forward with allegations that he had sexually harassed her during their time working together in the 1990’s. Cain and his PR team vehemently denied these allegations, claiming the woman was a fraud and liar. In an article for CommproBiz, Roshini Rajkumar discusses how skepticism is rampant among the public today. “Cain wants you to believe [the allegations] are all fiction. But the American public won’t rest with that…” The fallout continued when two more women came forward with similar accusations, and Cain continued to deny what he called the “baseless,” claims. Yet amid his denials, his once stellar public opinion was quickly dropping and soon his poll numbers were so low that he was forced to drop out of the race.
Sexual harassment is a serious allegation, and had Cain acknowledged that the allegations were true he likely would have had to drop out of the race anyways. The public may have appreciated hearing the truth, instead of spin and denials from candidate. In the Edelman Trust Barometer, it shows that the public trusts the government and CEOs of companies the least. Telling the truth may have cost him his presidential campaign bid but he may have escaped with something perhaps more valuable in the long run, his integrity as a politician.