Truthiness

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The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Truthiness
www.colbertnation.com
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Most of us here in the Journalism School are very familiar with Stephen Colbert. He and counterpart, Jon Stewart, have essentially created a brand new way of bringing the news to the world. From a strategic communicator's standpoint, they've hit the jackpot as they've gotten people to listen. So it's only appropriate that I include a blog partially devoted to at least one of them.

Years ago, Colbert invented a new world called "truthiness." He described it as truth that comes from the gut, rather than a book. The word turned some heads in academia, and ultimately found its way into the dictionary. Webster now defines it as, "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true." Unfortunately, for many that means irrationally denying cold, hard researched facts in favor of their own intuition or gut feelings.

As future professionals, who will be relying on research to influence and make multi-million dollar decisions, we must be very weary of our own feelings of truthiness. Just because we may believe that the best Unique Selling Position for a car might be the leather seats doesn't mean we should focus an ad on the seats. If research shows that the target audience truly cares about how fast a car can go, then that is what the ad should focus on.

The same can go for a PR message. Just because we believe that a company's mission statement is right doesn't mean that is the mission statement we should present to the whole world. We must present a message that research shows is appealing to a mass audience, one that will present the company as friendly to its customers.

Only in the most obvious of circumstances should we be relying on our intuition. So long as we have the time and money needed to researching the data required to make decisions, then we should be relying on research more than anything.

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