(Part 3 of 4)
News Monitors and Fake News
Universal Information Services is a news monitoring company and as such we are seeing and vetting fake news daily. This is a new age we are living in and we are, let’s say, just a little more than half a year into this new media world. This is truly a case of learning on the fly for many public relations professionals. Will fake news obscure their message? Will fake news skew their measurement results? Will fake news reduce the value and impact of my PR effort? All of these are great questions and are questions news monitors are working through for their clients.
Most of us, more likely than not, haven’t had to deal directly with the effects of fake news. But like I said in the last blog, low public trust in the media effects our entire industry, especially PR outcomes.
Trust Fights Back
So how can we counter-punch against this trust issue? The most effective way to “combat” this phenomenon may be to prepare yourself in advance. But as far as preventing your brand from getting tied to fake news, that might not be possible. Just ask Boeing and how they feel about their brand being associated with fake news so often. They didn’t ask for this to happen. They, believe it or not, didn’t ask to be publicly attacked by the President and be thrown into the middle of a war of words. It just happened.
Being prepared for a fake news crisis might be as easy as being the honest, ethical communications professional that you’ve been trained to be. But in case you aren’t that person… yet, here is what we are counseling our clients to do to prepare for a fake news crisis.
- Start building trust with your audiences and stakeholders, if you haven’t already. As my brilliant colleagues over at AMEC pointed out this summer, trust is far more important than truth. You can start building brand trust It doesn’t take a crisis to get in place. You should actively be building positive relationships with your stakeholders and audiences. That way, when you are thrown into a crisis such as this, you can lean on your brand trust to help you through. Building trust with your audiences and stakeholders is an ongoing process. If you stopped relying on brand trust somewhere along the way, 2017 might be the year to restart those trust programs.
- Understand your audience and how they interact with news about your organization or brand. Like I mentioned at the start of this blog – fake news isn’t a new phenomenon. These concepts have been around since news has been published. What is different is the way your audiences are perceiving this information and interacting with it.
- Have a finger on the pulse of your communications footprint. Having a media monitoring partner in place can allow your team to find misinformation, or fake news, quicker. Having a partner in the monitoring/measurement world for your organization is imperative in 2017. This is true for social media more than any other media type. Actual fake news (fiction stories or untrue stories), generally, lives on social media. If you’re not monitoring your social presence to defend against misinformation campaigns, you need to have a plan in place that stretches across all mediums.
A Habit of Truth
Of course, you are probably doing most of this at your job now, but some might not be. Actively engaging in truthful discussions with your key audiences and stakeholders isn’t something you should do after a negative crisis strikes your brand. It’s something that should already be in place. The news monitors and PR measurement services you use can see and quantify the impact fake news is having on your PR effort if you ask them. Being prepared is the key.
What is your organization doing currently to combat misinformation campaigns?
Be sure to give me a follow at @AustinOmaha and discuss this topic with me. I’d love to chat about your thoughts, opinions, and insight into this issue as it effects all of us.
Austin Gaule is the PR Measurement Director at Universal Information Services