Didn’t you know? Lying about not lying is still lying. We were involved in a discussion about an online survey regarding truth and lying in PR.

There were some interesting questions and results:

  • nearly 25% of clients/bosses expect practitioners to lie
  • 83% of PR people have never lied to a journalist
  • 73% of PR people lie over the course of their work (68% admitted to lying in personal life)
  • 80% say media lie to its audiences

A simple question was asked…when can you justify lying professionally? Our very clear and resounding answer: NEVER! Amazingly, not everyone in our industry feels the same. Here are some answers from other communications industry professionals (excuse me while I go barf):

When it doesnt have detrimental effects on others and is on behalf of your client

When it is a life threatening situation or to save someone’s life or job

When it is in the interest of national security

If not lying would result in environmental damage

To spare someone’s feelings

When anticipatory lies which have the possibility to turn into truth, which can be a great PR tool

When truth can lead to social catastrophe

When the destruction of your company is imminent

When it brings peace

When commenting on a co-worker’s work

To protect innocent people

When the lie will not damage your reputation and the client’s business

So these are just a few of roughly 400 answers…but situations where “life and death” are at stake, take the cake. That’s when a majority of people think it’s ok to lie. But many answers supported witholding information. So that begs the next questions. Is withholding the truth, or omission of information, lying?

According to the survey only 7% think it’s morally equivalent.

The consultants behind the interesting survey released their report here. It’s worth a skim.

-Team Tellem