Watch the Padding

In a recent piece for PR News, PR Insider columnist Andrew Hindes offers tips on how to write a good, and truthful, professional bio. Andrew, who heads The In-House Writer, a PR and marketing copywriting firm, has become our resident expert on writing press releases, e-mail subject lines and other nuts-and-bolts essentials in the PR pro’s toolbox. One of the tips he offers about writing professional bios: “A bio should never include fabricated accomplishments, awards, titles or positions. Besides the obvious moral issue, false claims are easy to disprove in the digital age and the potential fallout from getting caught in a lie far outweighs any benefits of exaggerating one’s achievements.”

Andrew had discussed writing this piece with me before the story broke widely about Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson including in his resume a degree in computer science that he did not actually earn, so he wasn’t jumping on any bandwagon with this article idea. His tip about not lying in a professional bio was just one among nine, but it’s the one that really jumps out at you now.

As a PR pro, you have to take some things on faith, right? If the CEO sends down a bio for you to post on a site or include in an annual report, who are you to question the details? You’re lucky your budget is remaining intact for the coming year, so why make waves?

Perhaps. But then there’s the issue of your own reputation, which will follow you to your next job. You owe it to yourself, your organization and your senior leaders to fact-check everything, and then let the chips fall where they may.

—Steve Goldstein

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI 

  • Thomas Banks

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