Last week, I received a marketing letter from a financial adviser who listed "played for the Chicago Cubs" among his bulleted background points.
Hmm. I didn't recognize his name, so looked him up on the authoritative Retrosheet and Baseball Reference websites.
He wasn't on either site, though I did find some minor-league stats for him from nearly 40 years ago. He had a .228 batting average in two Class A (low-level minor league) seasons, one in the Cubs' organization and another in the Tigers'.
Of course, the word "organization" or "minor-league system" makes for an inconveniently cumbersome bulleted point, doesn't it?
Now, this fellow may well be a great guy. I bet his friends would describe him as bright and hard-working and trustworthy. If so, then it's a shame that exaggerating this one athletic exploit--and being naive enough to think that people won't check it out--could undermine those strengths.
Or maybe the inaccuracy is only the tip of the iceberg?
Either way, the simple point remains, and it's one that anyone must place foremost in any marketing or PR communication. Especially in an era where fact-checking zooms with a blink-of-the-eye Google search, when laying your story-telling's foundation, it's always best to start with the truth.