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How not to lie in PR, from Hacked Off Flack

25th February 2013

Lying is always a terrible idea. “Spinning” is not the same thing, and anyway, PR’s reputation for embellishing, embroidering and boasting, is well … exaggerated. You only have to follow the news to know that the most terrible liars are politicians. And when it comes to lying, they have plenty to teach us – about how NOT to do it that is. So when you feel tempted to bend the truth, remember these lessons from politics:

1. Never involve someone else in your lie. It could get very messy, and if your relationship breaks down … Chris Huhne can explain better than I can. And if he’s tight-lipped, try Jonathan Aitken.

2. Don't blame your predecessor. Politicians always claim it is the last government’s fault, but a) that can’t always be true and b) blaming others doesn’t make anyone look good.

3. Don’t even think about claiming false expenses.

4. Ideally, always be good. But if you do get caught with your pants down, say sorry, do not try and worm your way out of it. Remember the words “I did not have sexual relations with that woman …”.

5. Always make sure you have your facts straight. Being persuasive when you haven’t got the right information may not end up in war, like it does in politics, but it can still lead to a nasty mess.

6. If you’re in the wrong, do not force your accusers to apologise. If Jeffrey Archer hadn’t sued The Daily Star for libel he might not have ended up in prison. Note the “might”.

7. Do not fake your own death. Just like Labour junior minister John Stonehouse in 1974. Things can’t be that bad surely?

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