Fake news is not new! But it is now creating a whole new sector in issues and reputation management.
Since the US Presidential election it has become an industry in itself. However, it was around long before that with the continuous climate change debate, the use of coal for power generations, coal seam gas exploration, mystic and botanical healing powers, the list goes on and on.
According to Dr Jenny Hou at the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University it is not necessarily truth (facts), but truthiness (perceived truth) that critically influences reputation and bottom-line.
Her research highlights how business organisations should take “initiatives to combat fake news, rather than shift the blame to, or pin hopes on, media, technologies, regulators or news consumers”.
At a recent Public Relations Institute of Australia crisis management master class, fellow member Gerry McCusker strongly advocated the need for social media engagement in addressing fake news as it arises; in fact within 15 minutes or earlier of it arising.
Unless companies and governments are prepared to be honest and proactive with their communication and put their position and facts to the community on issues in well-constructed communication and engagement plans, fake news will win the day in the perception stakes.
The need for this is further boosted by the growth of clickbait sites – the more people click a post, the more money those fake news sites earn.
A recent study tour of the United Arab Emirates by Massey University highlighted that ‘influencers’ in the fake news arena were now likely to come under government scrutiny and regulations if they knowingly circulate information that was deemed to be ‘fake’.
In the end it is up to organisations to proactively ‘call out’ fake news by:
Developing the facts on the ‘news’ and present them in a ‘truthful, non-emotional’ way – videos, information sheets, images
Disseminate them early, frequently and to all key stakeholders
Continually monitor and ‘call-out’ fake news sources as they arise
State your organisation’s Values and adhere to them in all communication
To understand fake news and reputation management, contact Robert Masters & Associates here.