She is a publicist. But, from Virginia Heffernan's account in The New York Times, one may come to believe that Hicks is a professional liar, just like her family of PR pros before her, Heffernan touts. I don't know Ms.Hicks. I don't know if she has lied on behalf of clients or Mr. Trump. Over the past 25 years, I have worked with peers who have "embellished the truth," as one once told me. There are also PR pros who explore different angles or try to argue why their client's point of view is the point of view. And, some PR people lie. PR isn't so black and white.
For Ms. Heffernan to opine about Ms. Hicks and her family as "flacks" or anything close to being honest, is an unfair judgment. Better yet, it proves once again how powerful the court of public opinion can be, without facts, and how journalists too share a great responsibility of reporting the truth.
Accountability needs to be on both sides. The PR professional needs to act less desperately when trying to gain coverage and only pitch stories or news that is factual with credible sources. And, the journalists need to do a better job of vetting their stories with their staff and editors so not to rush to print or broadcast and hinder their reputation either. Additional ideas include:
- "Breaking News" needs to be a headline of the past.
- PR pros and journalists need to go back to the basics of forming trusted relationships and announce "exclusives" or "first looks" to allow both sides to fully flush out the best stories.
- Newsrooms need to go back to beefing up the newsroom and assign certain people to cover specific beats and ask them to become experts on those beats, maybe even hiring more qualified reporters or on-air personalities who are formerly experts in their domain.
- In this world of social media, platforms need to label advertised posts as advertisements and not news, like magazines used to when publishing "advertorials." Social media networks need to be regulated...
- Lastly, there needs to be a renewed focus on creating quality content such as we're seeing from Quartz, The Information, and VICE.