Truth and Facts in Public Relations

Mark Weiner, Chief Executive Officer, PRIME Research

Public Relations is a function of “truth” and “fact.”  While some of us may focus on one more than the other, as a public relations research consultant, I deal in both truth and facts. Let’s consider the difference between the two:

A fact is a reality that cannot be logically disputed or rejected. If I say “1+1=2,” reasoning skills don’t change that fact. In offering this example, I am not speaking a truth, I am stating a fact. If you say “1+1=4,” you are not lying, you are simply incorrect. Facts are concrete realities that no amount of reasoning will change. Facts are acknowledged rather than derived.

Conversely, a truth is a deduction or a conclusion. If I say “Higher taxes are good,” and I offer a strong rationale to support that statement, then — if higher taxes really are good — that is a truth. However, if another person offers a strong rationale to the contrary, and because of their argument I adopt their position then that is also a truth. But my new beliefs are just as true now as my old beliefs were before I accepted the argument.

Truths, as opposed to fact, are much more fluid and malleable than their fact-based counterparts. So while it may be true when people say that SOME PR is spin, it’s not a fact that ALL PR is spin just as it may be true that SOME PR practitioners act professionally, it’s not a fact that ALL PR practitioners act professionally.

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