Can You Be Too Honest?

by Vianka McConville

I attended a Florida Public Relations Association Professional Development Workshop yesterday and left with one thought:  It’s so refreshing to hear someone who spoke with complete candor.

There were a number of interesting presentations and plenty of good nuggets of information to help me hone my skills in PR, but what impacted me most was the luncheon speaker from the ALS Association Florida.  She presented on the success of the recent Ice Bucket Challenge, but instead of just sharing the facts and, talking to the unpredictability of social media and viral content, she let us peer into a moment during that media frenzy that she considered a career low.

During a media interview, she let her guard down and made some completely honest remarks to a producer when she thought the camera had stopped rolling; instead, her candid words were misunderstood and became the focus of the story, not awareness of the disease.

She spoke of the situation with nothing to hide and you could see the room engaged, asking questions and wanting to hear more.  It was great to have a frank conversation in a room full of peers that are so often focused on walking the line of being politically correct.  There were no disparaging words, just honesty.

She said one thing she learned from the situation was that although the media is a great communication channel for sharing a message, you should never trust the media to tell your story the way YOU want it told.

As practitioners, we preach honesty and transparency with our audiences, including media.  That is still important, but after yesterday, I will be reminded that some honest words come with a price.

Side note:  If you want to learn more about ALS, please click here.  There is no cure for the disease and life expectancy is 2-5 years … with no survivors.

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