Is Spinning Sinning?

May 6, 2009

We hear the word “spin” all the time in politics and the media. What reaction does it have on you? And what does it really mean?  Since you are reading this blog, the more important question is “are there spin doctors in the business world and if so, how does that affect the transparency issue?”


George Stephanopoulos, ABC Washington Bureau Chief, and former political advisor to Bill Clinton, once defined spin as “a hope dressed up as an observation.”  Its formal definition from the book, The ABCs of Strategic Communication, by M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA, is “a slang term used when public relations practitioners attempt to manipulate the news or events in the media through skillful strategic messages and other public relations techniques.”


If you are the person in your company that is responsible for messaging, whether it is internal or external, the integrity of the company is on the line every time you make a statement.  Being transparent implies openness, and honesty. Trust and truthfulness are two of the best marketing tools available and they are free! Use them to solidify existing relationships, to attract new donors or business partners, and to build loyalty with employees.


Your organization’s brand, your CEO, the board, and every co-worker depend on you to report truthfully. Manipulating news and events manipulates everyone and that is not a good business practice.  You may be challenged to create a “truth,” to color an event or situation in a way that is not 100% honest in its content.  And you could try to rationalize why you have chosen the words you have in an attempt to justify the public statement. In reality it may buy you time, but it will eventually buy you trouble.  There are no shortcuts to the truth. The public will find out and your trust factor will diminish quickly.[1]


So yes, I do believe that spinning is sinning when used to manipulate the public.  And if we feel as business professional that we are honest and ethical, then we need to be sure to take a stand on integrity, review our statements prior to their release, and ensure we are protecting our organization’s reputation in a most positive way.  As my mother always said, “If you lose your reputation, it is very hard to get it back.”








 Eileen Weisman is a communication strategist practicing internal marketing communications.  Her company, The W Group creates communication strategies that ensure employees, associates, and donors take notice and take action!

[1] 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer


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