Five PR strategies to deal with fake news

fake news

As we have seen in the past couple of years, fake news has become a major problem. In many circumstances, the 24/7 media cycle combined with multiple channels for the public to share information and news has led to the rapid spread of fake news. This adds to the long list of challenges which already plague PR professionals. Fake news or public misstatements can often cause irreparable damage to a brand or a company’s image if the right steps aren’t taken.

Fake news needs to be quickly and effectively addressed to mitigate both current and possible future harm to the brand. Here are a few tips to correct and minimize the negative impact of misstatements:

Make an apology if it’s your mistake

Don’t beat around the bush. If the miscommunication came from your company, then quickly apologize and correct yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you want to remain credible, show your commitment to the truth. For example, if you released an incorrect statement, send out a correction as soon as you know of the errors. It is also important to find out how and why the mistake was made so that you can immediately make amends by changing practices so that these situations aren’t repeated.

Be sincere

One of the worst things you can do is be insincere. While honesty is key, if you’re being honest and apologizing without sincerity, audiences will see right through you. Being insincere in your response is equivalent to responding to a PR mishap with another PR mishap. Your intentions should be to rectify the situation and do the right thing by your customer. People are much more likely to be receptive to your apology or response if it oozes sincerity.

Stay alert

Staying alert and aware of the developments in the situation is as simple as setting up Google Alerts so that you’re always in the know and you get notifications in real time. This sounds simple but it will make a big difference – it will allow you to reach the news source as soon as the news breaks as well as reach out to them for clarification or correction, if required.

Use content as a response

If a company gets hit by fake news, then content is one of the best ways to counteract it. By creating and publishing content that is clear, transparent and truthful throughout different media channels, you’ll be able to portray the correct story to customers. Reaching out to your audience during these times is crucial so they are kept in the loop. If you make mistakes, admit them and communicate everything you are doing to fix those mistakes.

Understand your consumer’s news sources

In PR, it all comes down to understanding your customer. This means knowing where your target audience or consumer is most likely to get their information and news. Once you have identified these sources, monitor them and use them for disseminating information to your audience. Good PR professionals build relationships with these outlets and, at times, get informed before relevant stories are released.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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