Growing up in the UK, we were always taught that there are three things that one should never discuss at a dinner party; religion, sex and money, since without knowing what other people’s views are on these subjects, approaching any of them requires some caution, otherwise the discussion can fast turn into an argument.
With so much going on in the world just now, it is difficult to attend any social situation without someone bringing up some sort of controversial topic that is guaranteed to set the sparks flying. The subjects may have changed, but they should still probably be avoided. In my world, they are usually the immigration crisis, Paris or Donald Trump!
On the assumption that the majority of people that I have been mixing with just lately do not actually have inside knowledge about any of these topics and are basing their opinions on what they have read in the paper or online, or seen on TV, I can’t help but pitch in with my own thoughts, which are that so many of our opinions on topics/people/situations are based on very little real information, since an awful lot of what is reported in the media is ‘spun’ by people like me!
Those of us working in PR know only too well how to turn a negative piece of news into something positive, have trained our clients to only say certain things and avoid others, have manipulated the way a photo will look or agreed a strategy that will make someone appear nicer or more knowledgeable than they actually are… imagine what can be done when some of the biggest PR experts in the world are available to spin the story?!.
I remember when I was working in London and the IRA was still busy causing trouble, one of my friends, who came from Belfast and travelled back there every weekend, told me that she had never, in her more than 24 years of growing up there, seen any sign of trouble, and that sadly the media only camped out in the worst spots and never showed how wonderful most of Belfast was. We should remember this when we are watching one of the many terrible things that are being reported just now; not everything is as dreadful as the media likes to make out, and it is still, probably, more risky to take a bad Prague taxi than it is to sit on a plane, walk around Paris, or go to one of the other places that have recently been in the media due to some or other high profile incident.
Let’s hope that next year sees more positive news; in my working experience, it is nearly always possible to find something good that comes out of something bad. We can only hope.