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06/14/2017

Truth Works

Source: PIASC's Weekly Update, June 12, 2017

Regardless of what’s going viral, or what you feel pressured to produce by advisors or clients, ethical discourse matters. We all have to live in the world we shape with our narratives. Embody these attributes, and hold both internal and external communications teams—and yourself—to these standards:

1. Be honest. Authenticity is priceless. If your client hopes to do or be something, go ahead and say so, but be transparent about where they are in that pursuit. Don’t inflate or misrepresent the situation just to spice up a story, advance a brand objective or win page views. A bent toward hyperbole is an affront to truth and can snowball into catastrophe. (Remember Theranos?) Conversely, feel free to tout real value and successes. Openly share vetted, verified data and hard-won experience. There’s nothing wrong with staking a claim, so long as you back it up with facts.

2. Check your sources. Pause before you cite or share "found" content online. Do the links trace to valid data? Who are the sources? Where did referenced statistics or images come from? Assertions from shrieking radio hosts and Macedonian teenagers might be entertaining to some, but it’s better to err on the side of Gartner or Gallup or Pew. We can no longer rely on the notion that if anything seems too weird to be true, it probably isn’t. If you do come across something astonishing that the international press corps has somehow overlooked, check with Snopes before you share it.

3. Do your duty.

If you are a subject matter expert, please stand up. If you represent an expert, nudge them into the debate. Our world would be poorer if Carl Sagan never eviscerated pseudoscience, Marc Andreessen never suggested that software is eating the world, or Clayton Christensen never asked how to measure a life’s work. We need real expertise and analysis. In the words of Louis Pasteur, "knowledge belongs to humanity and is the torch which illuminates the world." Do not cede the power of information to trolls and bots. Contribute genuine knowledge to the conversation, and you are contributing to the cause of truth.

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