Weeding out Fake News through PR
With the rise of social media, communication has become faster and it offers many advantages for PR. However, at the same time, it has also brought with it one of the worst fears of the PR industry – the Fake News Phenomenon.
What is Fake News?
Fake News is news that is intentionally and verifiably false, and could mislead readers. It could be created by competitors to bring down a competing brand. The worst part is that these tend to go viral without any sort of verification or authentication. Combating fake news is one of the biggest challenges that brands today faces.
Monitor news online and offline
Keep a look out for news on your brand and on the industry both online and offline. Fake news can hit your brand any time and it’s good to keep your eyes wide open. While searching online, make sure that you broaden your search criteria, so that you do not miss out on something important.
Stay ethical and transparent
When giving away news about your brand, be ethical. Do not get tempted to feed untruths to the press. If your lie gets called out by any other brand or person, then your credibility will take a big hit. Staying honest and transparent will build trust in your brand.
If you are hit by fake news, respond immediately. The quicker your response, the less the damage. Squash the fake news by going all out in mainstream media with a full-fledged PR campaign. Provide proof to back up whatever you are claiming. For instance, if you are running a restaurant and there is a fake news report that you are adulterating food, respond by showing certificates from health authorities. You could also request regular customers to post positive reviews.
Push for more action
Facebook and Google have committed that they will work towards rooting out Fake News. They have identified and blocked sites with fake news created to generate advertising revenue.
They are taking initiatives but this is never enough. Push for more action, this can be done only through mobilizing more people and more PR agencies. Join the efforts to weed out fake news. When you find fake news on social media, flag it down. Support this effort to rid the world of fake news.
Harness a thought leader
Experts in a field are trusted for their expertise. For instance, heads of industry associations and other industry experts have credibility. Try and exploit this to rebuild trust in your brand in case you have been the target of fake news. For instance, if you are a builder and fake news that your buildings are not up to the quality promised turns up, turn to the leader of the building association. Ask him or her to vouch for you after scrutinizing your quality checks and so on. This should be effective in helping your efforts.
Disseminate true news regularly
On a regular basis, feed the mainstream media with updates on your brand. Post these on your website and also on social media such as FB. This gives customers a reliable source to look for news on your brand.