Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive

This cautionary observation is one of which every right-minded business leader should take careful note.

When caught in the grip of a raging controversy, it is natural that beleaguered managers would want to put the best face on things. Often this leads them to seek advice and support from so-called ‘spin doctors’ who are believed to be expert when it comes to controlling the media.

Their trade, popularly known as ’spinning’, is seen by many (media included) as a dark art. It has no place in our world of PR and communications and is (or should be) anathema to all who properly practice the business of public relations. That is a lesson that many bankers, crèche owners, meat processors and senior figures in medicine, remedial care and rehabilitation may have learnt by now.

Like lace curtains on a clear glass window, spinning allows those on the inside to look out whilst obscuring the vision of those on the outside who may wish, or need, to look in.

Amazingly, there are those who believe that a spin doctor is possessed of magical powers that, like a mother’s kiss, can suddenly make things better. Yet, contrary to public belief, they have no crystal ball by which to forecast what the future holds. Neither do they have the power to manipulate media bent on pursuing a particular course.

Like a dog that bites, spin doctors are well known – some so well know they have acquired a certain dubious celebrity. Truth to tell, engaging one may be the very worst thing a troubled organisation could do. Often, their involvement is viewed by commentators as tantamount to an admission of guilt on the part of those who engage them – their presence being seen by the sceptical as an action whose purpose is to obscure, divert, distract, distort or cover up.

There is no spin that one can put on truthful, honest discourse and those who try risk being seen for what they are…maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. For those whose PR need is great, and for whom the pressure is immediate, the advice is this: seek help from one who prefers fact to obfuscation, one to whom deceit, distortion and deception are foreign words, one who values reputation and who has the courage and the strength to express opinion and tender good advice, however unpalatable it may be!