You bet I am.
I find the spin of PR to be bloody fun and while I recognise how problematic it can be, I want to take a moment to share some of it.
These are my 8 principles of spinning anything.
Always tell the truth
If you want to spin a negative into a positive, it’s not about hiding the truth or denying anything. It’s about controlled transparency that never hides a single fact, where the facts come from you, on your own terms.
Have a life-changing experience
If you want to spin a career change or failure, a business pivot or failure, or a total personal rebrand, the easiest way to do it is through a real or impossible-to-disproval “life-changing experience” – a distinct point you can refer to that provides context for change.
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Nobody actually needs to believe you…
It’s not about how believable any argument or explanation for any action is. It’s about how much you commit to repeating it, how little you pause when questioned on it and always having a response based on it no matter what.
…because you want them to block it out anyway
People think they can tell when they’re being spun a story. They cannot. Good spin becomes almost white noise that you can’t even tune into, that you eventually just accept or at least stop thinking about.
Always plan your spin in advance
Before I start any project, I already have my exit spin in case it doesn’t work out. If I lose a job or a contract tomorrow, I know exactly what story to tell, how to present the unedited but carefully curated truth and how to play whatever comes next.
Be the best at telling the truth
Good spin requires you to openly admit and wave your arms at and point to the truth so much that you are the one everyone believes is the right one to tell it.
Think like a general, not a Pope
Good spin requires you to think strategically. To work out exactly what parts of your position or message you are willing to sacrifice at any moment in order to cede ground to media or public opinion in a way that disarms them.
I.E., can you think ahead and make or invent a point, that you are totally willing to sacrifice, into a major part of your platform so that when you burn it or admit it was wrong, it looks like a victory for your critics that will provide a simple end to the narrative?
Your best case scenario isn’t winning. It’s making everyone else think they won.
Good spin isn’t your client or your company or you getting off the hook. It’s when you control the price that is paid for a bad move and ensures a small price is paid so that the incident is never left open to be referred to again and again.
Look, is this cynical? Sure. But spin is always cynical. You don’t have to take this article as a how-to guide. You can take it as a codebook so you know when someone is spinning to you.
But at the end of the day, we are living through the most powerful time in human history for the crystallisation of public opinion through social and digital media. Knowing how to spin is fucking essential.
[This post by Jon Westenberg first appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.]