Do you remember when you were a kid and you saw a horror movie, or were read a bedtime story that really upset you, well that’s what the term ‘spin doctors’ does for me. It makes my skin creep.

I’ve always had the strong view that public relations is founded on the presumption that communication should be based on truth, honesty and the dissemination of factual information.

Spin doctoring is the opposite of this. Distortion, lies and misinformation is the mantra.

The current Federal Government scenario seems to have started the ‘spin doctoring’ Olympics as each side tries to out jump, out run and out swim the other side with catastrophic impact on the status of public relations in the community, because like it or not, the term is publicly linked to the perception of PR and frankly, I deeply resent it.

There is a weekly spot on ABC Radio in Sydney called the ‘Spin Doctors’. The concept is that the panel of three or four are given news situations on which they comment on how they would have handled it, or what those involved had done wrong. When it started, my son Gavin said that I should put my name forward as I have not only done a lot of stuff on radio and know how it works, but I have also spent a long time in PR.

Spin Spin Spin

I said that it was a good idea but I couldn’t see what I had in common with the other panel members or what they represented. So far as I could tell, most were at best journalistic refugees, or from advertising, or were a university arts graduate. None of these people have PR qualifications (except for the gift of the gab) and subsequently were not, or qualified to be, members of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, or abide to the Code of Ethics. In fact, ethics seems to be the opposite of where the panel was coming from.

So they do say what they like and on the brief times I have heard the program they talk the most absolute claptrap.

So fellow PR professionals, what is your view of ‘spin doctors’? Do you love ‘em, hate ‘em, or don’t care one way or the other?

-Dennis Rutzou