Putting the Spin on Spin

Spin is so common it commands a “No Spin Zone”® on Fox News. Many times practitioners are placed in a reactive position when the boss or client says, “Call in my Spin Doctor to deal with this.”

But when you ask students in my class what “spin” means, you get some startling responses. “Lying” is a common one. “Holding back the truth” is another. “Shining a good light on a bad situation” is yet another.

But what is spin?

How about using the old terms, “my take on it,” or “our take on it?” Spin is the highly selective use of words, facts, perceptions, visions, statements, rationalizations, to communicate a certain type of statement or theme that should lead people to a similar conclusion…you’d hope.

Maybe spin paints a picture, frames an issue, puts something in context or offers a definitive answer, that sounds objective, but that may be deeply rooted in bias and/or a hidden agenda.

So, here, in the mother of all spin seasons, let’s talk national election spin.

For several weeks, Senator Obama’s campaign been weighed down by Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments regarding race in this country, which sparked highly contentious debates in all areas of the media as well as in America’s living rooms. It’s like having a front end loader, magnum Sears Kenmore® washer. That baby has the ultra, mega spin cycle.

It seems like everyone is trying to get a piece of the action, offering their own in-depth analysis – Wright is right. Wright is wrong. Wright is scary. Wright has been taken out of context.

But despite all this brouhaha, not all spin is bad.

You develop a response based upon a strategy that you formulate, you weigh the options you have, you consider how your spin will sound when emanating from you lips. Is it what I am really trying to say? Is it cogent? Is it believable? Do my key messages back up my statement?

Spin Doctors are not really different from salesmen, lawyers or politicians. You have a position, you have some key points to say, you try and influence people to see it your way, or better yet, the client’s way.

Good luck spinning.

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