Over the course of my career, I’ve been involved in a lot of press releases. I’ve also spoken with quite a few reporters. Most of the time, I worked with the internal PR folks at my place of business. Most of them were very focused on telling the best story while staying on the right side of the truth. They and I never knowingly gave out false information. Sure, we put the best face on whatever information we gave out and maybe we didn’t highlight (OK, or even mention) the not so good stuff. But that’s it. No lies. Nothing made up.
Maybe I’m naive, but I’m surprised how often I read something that clearly has come from a press person, or from an executive who generally works with a press person, and something says to me “check it out.” Like most folks these days, I have a pretty good grasp on what the “search” bar is for and it generally doesn’t take more than a bit of looking to figure out if there is a disconnect with the facts and the story. Sometimes I even know someone who does know the real story and, frankly, I’m sad when I find out someone I know and/or respect is outright lying.
There are a number of sites that do this in the political world but not that many in business. In fact, the New York Times was embarrassed not too long ago by their failures to check out information they’d been fed. Is the amount of information we get every day making us lazy? Are we expecting to be spoon-fed everything? Or are we just overwhelmed and the demands on media to publish RIGHT NOW make careful analysis and commentary impossible?
Next time you hear some fantastic numbers or a great business story, do some checking. Let’s see if someone didn’t let the facts get in the way of their story.