PR Word of the Week #8: Spin Doctor

If you work in the communications or public relations industry, you may from time to time feel a hanging image over shoulder. A bad image created by our PR ancestors: Spin Doctors.

As communicators today, we should strive to be anything BUT spin doctors. Therefore, this week I dedicate the PR Word of the Week to explaining what NOT to do in public relations and communications.

Spin Doctor

(spin ˈdäktər)

In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, “spin” often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.


The five things a spin doctor does, and things you SHOULDN’T do as an ethical public relations or communications professional are as follows:

  1. Send out a media release and then not have a spokesperson prepped and available to talk about it.
  2. Spinning the news. A common example of this is how some companies disguise terrible earnings by highlighting one piece of good news, even if it is irrelevant.
  3. Flat-out lying. Remember, some reporters will actually make follow-up calls to check out information.
  4. Pitch a story or idea that already ran in the media outlet.
  5. Sly pitching. Pitching a story to two reporters at the same outlet and not letting either know about it. Trust me, they will find out about it, and good luck getting them to return your calls afterward.

Protest against spin doctors

There are many ways you can protest “spin doctors”:

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