OK, so Dominique Strauss-Kahn happens to be the latest celebrity/politico in trouble. And, almost without fail, when something like this happens, someone I know says, “You know, Don, Struass-Kahn could really use your help.”
Well, I take that as a misguided compliment. The idea that a dirtbag like him can somehow save his reputation through “PR” is, frankly, insulting to those of us in the business. The implication is that we can “spin” things to make him appear better than he is. The answer is more obvious—you can’t turn sour milk into sweet cream. Certainly PR is about representing clients in the best possible light. But it is definitely not about trying to fool or deceive the public.
Conversely, in one breathtaking move today, Rupert Murdoch turned a nightmare around by actually closing down his publication, News of the World. Now that is taking action, meaningful action. No one can doubt his disgust when journalists from this publication hacked into the voicemails of thousands of people. I’m sure my old friend Bethany Sherman, now running Rupert’s Global PR program, had something to do about this brilliant and decisive move.
PR is about credibility, not spin. The difference between Strauss-Kahn and Murdoch and what professional PR is all about cannot be more pronounced.