In one respect, and one respect only, entrepreneurs can
learn a lot from politicians: when it comes to writing advertising copy and
press releases, politicos really are the masters of putting a “positive spin”
on the negative.
Contrary to popular belief, politicians rarely lie.
That is why they turn so viciously on any of their number
caught fibbing – it is worse than dishonest: it is a lack of professional skill.
It is probably one of those internet myths, but a story has
been doing the rounds that provides a useful example for any innocent
businessman who finds himself having to deal with the media. Apologies to those
who have seen it before, but it shows how we need to think.
It seems that a genealogist uncovered that the
great-great-uncle of a well-known politician was a notorious rustler and horse
thief in the Wild West. He was caught and sentenced to a long prison term at
hard labour. Eventually, he escaped and robbed the Montana Railroad a
record six times, but was tracked down by Pinkerton
detectives and hanged in front of a large crowd outside the Territorial
The genealogist sent these findings to the politician, who
issued the following press release.
“I was delighted to learn that researchers have discovered
that my great-great-uncle was a famous cowboy in the Old West. Having built a
business empire based on the acquisition of valuable equine assets, he then
devoted several years of his life to public service. Returning to the private
sector, he developed a substantial interest in the Montana Railroad, and
subsequently played an important role in a major investigation by the
celebrated Pinkerton Agency. He passed away prematurely after a platform
collapsed at a well-attended civic function that was being held in his honour. “