Monday, April 29, 2013

Truth, Well Told

Did you read Stuart Elliott's column in the Times today about the old-school public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard taking the hyphen out of their name and adopting a new slogan?  It would have been laughable were it not so tragic.

"Truth, Well Told" is their new slogan.  I'm not sure if they have a comma, but you get the gist.

At the breakfast table this morning, the new FH slogan was such a stunning load of shit, coming at me so early in the morning, that it had the effect of completely shutting off mind.  I mean, good God, it was only 9:30!  My defenses were still down!

I sat there at the breakfast table for what must have been twenty minutes, oatmeal dribbling out of the side of my mouth, my system unable to process the succulence of the thing.  The over-weaning arrogance of the matter.  The ... the ... well, dear reader, I'm still at a loss for words.

The waitress had to shake my shoulder and say, "Geoff?  Are you okay?"

I'm still processing it.  Perhaps you could read the story here and sent me a note helping me through it.

I will say this.  In the history of slogans, "Truth, Well Told" is right up there with Fox News' "Fair and Balanced."  It battles bravely with "Guns don't kill people; People kill people" for some kind of evil supremacy.

My experience with public relations companies (although not FH specifically) is both broad and deep.  So believe me when I tell you that when it comes to public relations in general, the Truth is certainly one communications option.  But far more frequently used as a marketing tool is a well-told version of the truth that is so tactically vetted and selectively obfuscatious as to as to be functionally a complete falsehood.  

I would call your attention to almost anything coming out of the mouth of almost any politician at almost any time as an excellent example of the phenomenon.

I leave you now to paint a map of the whole thing, hoping that grappling with the schematics of the thing will help me more fully understand a Truth Well Told.


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