PR in the post-truth age

Apparently we are living in the ‘post-truth age’. A year ago, the idea of spin doctors leading the unwitting public to believe ‘alternative facts’ would have been wholly…

Apparently we are living in the ‘post-truth age’. A year ago, the idea of spin doctors leading the unwitting public to believe ‘alternative facts’ would have been wholly unacceptable to most people. Then came 2016 and Donald Trump, and seemingly the world became tired of experts and unable to wait for the truth. For real PR professionals, the world got a little bit darker, questions about “spinning the truth” became a little more pointed, and the reputation of our industry took a hit.

As strategic communications practitioners, we’re used to quietly batting away any occasional accusations of spin with a wry smile. “I’m afraid it’s not about ‘sexing things up’. It’s about grounding communications in fact, telling true stories, and articulating the knowledge and ideas of genuine experts.”, we’d say. But now, in this post-truth age, we need to shout it from the rooftops!

Our lifeblood is the genuine innovation, insight and understanding of those who are developing solutions to key challenges within their industries. Whether that is a brand-new technology to drive down fuel costs, consultancy that helps navigate upcoming compliance issues, or data analytics that deliver individual business intelligence. As PR professionals, we may have the knowledge to create content and communicate that within our clients’ industries, and the skills to leverage it strategically to engage their key audiences. However, the process is fundamentally one of refining, contextualising and communicating the expertise of our clients to the people they need to be speaking to.

The role of B2B PR professionals is not to spin or rose-tint information. Modern businesses make decisions based on facts and figures. The role of a PR strategy based on thought leadership is to translate and articulate the intellectual, and knowledge capital at the core of any organisation. Far from trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, the key is to build a reputation grounded in truth that acts as a foundation from which positive and powerful relationships can be developed, which in turn will increase brand equity and enterprise value.

They say that we are living in the post-truth age. But we believe that “the truth will out”. In BLUE’s experience, we are working daily with organisations and individuals committed to providing high-level expertise on complex issues, committed to data, verification and evidence-based results, and committed to research, innovation and transparency. In the B2B world, particularly the cost-constrained sectors of marine and energy, hard facts have never been more vital.

Building a positive reputation isn’t about telling clever lies. It is about consistently delivering on your brand promise to meet the needs of stakeholders through both your actions and how you communicate and engage. Truth and expertise are central to strong reputations, and that is why effective public relations will never be without them.

BLUE works with experts from across the marine and energy industries. Read their perspectives on key industry issues through our new thought leaders blog.


By Kate O’Connor, Consultant