The rise in fake news stories comes as a threat to PR because the industry relies upon the authenticity of the media to generate credible coverage for clients.
When the media is not trusted, it devalues the impact of hard-earned editorial as it becomes difficult for the general public to decide what is fact and what is fiction.
This is aggravated by the fact that so many people share stories without first considering the truth behind them but it’s hardly simple or easy for many users to know what to do or how to spot what’s fact and what’s fake.
Fake news threatens everything from traditional publishers and broadcasters to all of the social media platforms – undermining their authority and authenticity.
Facebook, in particular, has come under fire for furthering the spread of fake news hence recent stories on how it and Google are set to clamp down on fake news sites by barring them from using ad networks and cutting off crucial lines of revenue.
However, you can’t get away from the fact that people read a headline and don’t even bother to check it out before sharing it. How many of us are guilty of that?
So what can the PR world do about this? 7 simple things:
- Continually monitor mentions – be aware of what is being discussed. Don’t be the last to find out the conversation’s taking place.
- Respond quickly – real time alerts should let you know immediately when your company/client has been mentioned online. Rather than repeating falsehoods, nip them in the bud by sharing positive news.
- Add fake news to crisis plans – brainstorm different scenarios and plan for the worst.
- Be transparent – be straight-forward in news announcements. Spinning the facts can also be seen as ‘fake news’ and attract criticism.
- Pay to be seen – paying to promote social media content and paid search will help boost your visibility of real news.
- Gather a few advocates – creating an army of allies that believe in your company and will blog/talk/tweet in a positive way will counteract any fake news out there.
- Relationships with journalists – these are the people who will help you when someone decides to take down your client/brand with fake news.