Some professions somehow attract the sort of vibes that you usually associate with visiting in-laws who think your spouse could have done a lot better.

Lawyers, for example. The mere idea that they could be kind, thoughtful or inexpensive defies most minds. The notion that they're honest has been cast into the sky and was last seen somewhere near Pluto.

Car salespeople and those in business (including the advertising world) are regularly dumped into the cesspit of dishonesty, alongside those desperate creatures known as members of Congress.

And then there's PR people. Those who have drifted past puberty -- and realized that life isn't quite idyllic -- tend less to think that PR people are somewhat mendacious and more to expect that they are lying.

I know at least two PR people who think that's unfair. Although, just as with lawyers, advertising people and many other professions, their very job can often be finding the glossiest possible paint to cover the ugliest of ungulates.

A study has just slithered its way into my inbox. It doesn't extend a cheery olive branch to the PR profession. The email was headlined: "Trust A Barrier For Public Relations."

It enclosed something called "The Media Influencers Report."

This made for entertaining reading, especially if you're fond of gallows humor.

Digital media journalists, producers and bloggers were asked their views of the PR profession. 90 percent said they'd been lied to by PR people. Yes, only 90 percent.

Perhaps you'd like to pause and consider how much you trust digital media journalists, producers and bloggers.

While you're doing that, I'll tell you about my need, on seeing any research, to hold it at arm's length while my nose performs several sniffing motions.

The next thing I do is see who's sponsored the research. In this case, it's a company called D S Simon which, astonishingly, is an "award-winning digital, social and strategic video communications firm."

I'm sure it's a very honest firm too. It's certainly a very good company because it describes itself as "thought leaders," a phrase that is especially meaningful.

You'll be stunned to hear that the study specifically asked these journalists, bloggers and producers about digital video that was being offered for use to media organizations.

Some might find it mildly gruesome that subterfuge is alleged so often.

But before the first stone is cast from the greenhouse, perhaps we should all think about our little lies. The ones we call white, if we remember to call them anything at all.

We participate in things called meetings, when we know that there's often an undercurrent of subterfuge on the part of one person or another. (But which one?)

Those in sales might not look at some of their methods as lying. They might think of them as good salesmanship.

Lawyers, too, don't think of themselves as liars (even if one or two should). Instead, they passionately believe that they must defend their clients in whatever way they can. Especially as if they win, they'll likely make more money from attracting more clients, who'd love it if they lied (or not) for them.

Journalists will do favorable deals with someone who gives them juicy information on someone else. (You're shocked, I can tell.) Oddly, quite a few go on to be PR people and, apparently, quite good ones.

No one is quite immune from the deft phrasing, the felicitous omission that helps their cause. We lie to our lovers (for their own good, of course). You think we're not going to occasionally lie at work.

We also know that others are likely lying too, so we have to use our human skills to make judgments. It's terribly tiresome, but humanity is like that.

We are all also liars in the way that we lie to ourselves and justify what we do as being pure and somehow glorious (at least some of the time).

Still, just as so many advertising people are the worst advertisement for themselves on earth, so many PR people seem not too good at organizing their own PR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published on: May 29, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.