Most PR practitioners hate it when what they do is presented as 'spin'.
Not surprisingly, they like to think they provide honest and accurate information and would recoil in horror if someone were to suggest they were peddling part truths for organisational gain. Indeed, tackling the dubious reputation of public relations is quite an important part of what professional organisations such as, say, the Public Relations Consultants Association, set out to do.
They know that effective communication is based on trust, and that transparency is an integral part of the process of building that trust. Often, this means being open and clear about how a decision has been reached. Then, those affected might not agree with the conclusion but at least they know how the call was made.
It works like this. You may, for example, want to promote a new arrangement between a professional organisation and universities offering PR degrees. Fine. You might select, say, eleven universities which meet your exacting standards. Fine.
You might then, as chief executive, write a blog post entitled "Because there are universitites (sic). And then there are universities." Fine.
You might characterise this as "the latest stage in the PRCA's leadership of our industry."
You might explain that you have chosen to negotiate partnerships with a limited number of universities, and stress the word 'limited'.
You might say: "This is not some across-the-board endorsement of each and every PR degree out there, regardless of its quality or rigour. And that is deliberate. Because the plain truth is that many PR degrees are an utter and complete waste of time and money..."
You might say this creates a 'new quality distinction.'
You might add a classic weasel words phrase, such as "We are not saying that every single university that we have not affiliated with provides degrees without value. Far from it...."
And you might completely forget to mention how the selection was made.
By now you may have guessed that the University of Sunderland is not one of the select few deemed wonderful by the PRCA. And you might well think that this post is a splendid example of sour grapes.
But you will certainly have concluded that some chief executives of PR professional organisations are skilled in the telling of selective truths to further organisational objectives, and are quite happy to give readers a distorted and unhelpful view of PR education.
As the chief exec might say: "Win-win. Elite. That's how we like to spin."