In public relations and politics, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through knowingly providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to influence public opinion about some organization or public figure. While traditional public relations and advertising may manage their presentation of facts, "spin" often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and manipulative tactics.
Because of the frequent association between spin and press conferences (especially government press conferences), the room in which these conferences take place is sometimes described as a "spin room". Public relations advisors, pollsters and media consultants who develop deceptive or misleading messages may be referred to as "spin doctors" or "spinmeisters".
A standard tactic used in "spinning" is to reframe or modify the perception of an issue or event to reduce any negative impact it might have on public opinion. For example, a company whose top-selling product is found to have a significant safety problem may "reframe" the issue by criticizing the safety of its main competitor's products or by highlighting the risk associated with the entire product category. This might be done using a "catchy" slogan or sound bite that can help to persuade the public of the company's biased point of view. This tactic could enable the company to refocus the public's attention away from the negative aspects of its product.
Spinning is typically a service provided by paid media advisors and media consultants. The largest and most powerful companies may have in-house employees and sophisticated units with expertise in spinning issues. While spin is often considered to be a private-sector tactic, in the 1990s and 2000s some politicians and political staff were accused of using deceptive "spin" tactics to manipulate or deceive the public. Spin may include "burying" potentially negative new information by releasing it at the end of the workday on the last day before a long weekend; selectively cherry-picking quotes from previous speeches made by their employer or an opposing politician to give the impression that they advocate a certain position; or purposely leaking misinformation about an opposing politician or candidate that casts them in a negative light.